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You Can't Take it With You...But as published in InsideNova.com

Raise your hand if you care about the well-being of your loved ones. Say, look at all those hands!

Now raise your hand if your estate plans are in place. Hmmm. I see a lot fewer. A recent caring.com survey found less than half of us (42%) have estate plans; and only 36% of parents with minor children.

I get it. It’s not that you don’t care. But could there be anything less fun than preparing for your own demise – and spending dollars to do it? And while we know death is inevitable, we also tend to assume there’s still time. Unfortunately, in my 30+ years as a wealth advisor, I’ve seen how terribly unpredictable that timing can sometimes be.

Take heart. A thoughtful estate plan can be yours with three, maybe four documents.

A Will. If there’s a will, you’re far more likely to get your way. This legally enforceable document names an executor to implement your wishes, explains who gets what, and names guardian(s) for minor children.

Durable Power of Attorney – What if you’re incapacitated? Who will pay the bills, manage your money, keep your accounts in order? If you don’t have a durable power of attorney, the answer will be: nobody until someone is appointed by a court.

Advanced Medical Directive – This document names who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot. Double-duty, it also describes how you’d like to be cared for at end of life. Do you want every measure taken, or is “Do Not Resuscitate” more your style? Either way, keep the information handy, for ready access if needed.

A Revocable Trust – Optionally, a revocable trust can largely replace your will. By retitling all or most of your assets into a trust, you can more finely manage who receives them – and when. A will distributes assets upon your death, while a trust can manage your assets for decades after you are gone. Also, trust assets get to skip a will’s probate process and fees.

See, what a fun topic! Do your family a favor and get your plan in place. It's an act of love.

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