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Think beyond the will and trusts for your estate plan

While many people think that estate planning is a chore, there are some amazing benefits to getting your affairs in order now. You can't focus on only getting the will written out. There are several other things that you need to include in your estate plan.

Of course, the will and any trusts you establish are the cornerstones of the estate plan. You can pass on assets to your loved ones, friends and even charities through these measures.

You should also create a letter of intent. This letter is given to the executor of your estate or one of your beneficiaries. You can spell out what you want to happen with specific things. You can also give the plans for your funeral in this letter. Just remember that this isn't a legally binding document.

You can even designate someone to make decisions about your health care if you can't make them for yourself. You need to choose someone who knows your wishes and will stand up for those. You might choose to name a backup person just in case your primary choice isn't available when decisions must be made.

You also need to name a durable power of attorney. This person will determine what is going to happen to your assets if you can't make those decisions. This person needs to understand the implications of specific financial decisions.

If you have children or anyone who is dependent upon you and can't make their own decisions, you need to set up a guardianship. This outlines who your primary and contingent choices are for this responsibility. Each person you need to set up a guardianship for should be covered.

Source: Investopedia, "6 Estate Planning Must-Haves," Glenn Curtis, Dec. 13, 2017

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