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3 things to include in your estate plans

Estate planning isn't something anyone really wants to do. No matter where you are in your life, considering your own end-of-life and death is never a pleasant experience. But planning now -- wherever you are in life -- can help reduce stress and woes in your later years and can help your family recover and move forward during a time of grief. Here are three things to consider putting in your estate plan.

First, everyone should consider putting a will in his or her estate plan. A will is a fairly flexible document that lets you put a lot of your wishes in writing. You can include instructions for the disbursement of your assets among heirs, leave information about how to access accounts or other assets and even provide details about your wishes for funeral or burial arrangements. Second, consider including documents that are targeted toward protecting you during your last years. You might include health care power of attorneys that designate someone to make decisions on your behalf should you be incapacitated and unable to make them yourself. It's also a good idea to leave a document that details your wishes in this regard so someone knows what decisions you would like made.

Finally, consider other estate vehicles for leaving assets and wealth to loved ones. You might want to include a life insurance policy in your estate or set up a trust to ensure a dependent, business or charity is funded upon your death.

Estate planning is a very personal endeavor, and you have many options for protecting yourself, your legacy and your heirs. Working with a legal professional to understand and choose the right options can help strengthen your estate in the future.

Source: Kiplinger, "8 Smart Estate Planning Steps to Die the Right Way Read," Jane Bennett Clark, Pat Mertz Esswein and Lisa Gerstner, accessed Feb. 12, 2016

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