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When should I think about getting my affairs in order?

Many people think that they have plenty of time to get their affairs in order before they pass away. While this might very well be true, nobody knows the exact time or place where they will perish.

One thing that you should realize is that if you die and don't have an estate plan in place, your estate will be handled in accordance with the applicable state laws. You will be said to have died intestate.

Instead of thinking you have all the time in the world, make sure you think about how dying intestate will impact your family. Use that to spur you to action.

When should I make an estate plan?

You should make an estate plan as soon as possible. Adults of all ages have things that they should address in an estate plan. This includes how you want your assets to be handled, but there is so much more to an estate plan than just a list of who will get what when you die.

What do I need to include in my estate plan?

The will is the backbone of the estate plan; however, there are other things to think about. You might need to include trusts in your will if you have assets that need to go into those for whatever reason. You will also need to set up power of attorney designations for two primary aspects of your life -- finances and health care. This helps to ensure that you have someone who can stand in your stead if you can't make decisions about these areas of your life on your own.

You can even set these up so that if you are only temporarily unable to make your own decisions that you will be able to regain control of these areas when you are able to make the decisions again.

Are there any special considerations I should think about?

If you have children or pets, you need to think about what will happen to them if you die. You can't automatically think that your spouse will handle those things. What if you both pass away at the same time? You need to make plans now so that your children and pets aren't sent to foster care and shelters if something happens to you.

Can I forget about my plan once I make it?

You need to revisit your estate plan at least once a year to make sure that everything is still the way you want it. You also need to do this if you get married or divorced, have children, or have other significant changes in your life circumstances.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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