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Steps to creating your first estate plan

There will come a time when you decide to dive in and create your first estate plan. Even if you waited longer than you should have to do this, you're now faced with the process.

There are many steps that will put you on the right track to creating your first estate plan, including:

  • Deciding between a will and trust. There are pros and cons of both, so compare the finer details before making a decision. A will is typically easier to create, but a trust offers benefits like avoiding probate for your beneficiaries.
  • Choosing the right beneficiaries.: This is easy for some people, as they name a spouse and/or adult children. Others, however, need to think outside the box, especially those without any immediate family members or heirs.
  • Creating a durable power of attorney. If you're incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions, a durable power of attorney gives your agent the power to takeover management of your money and make health care decisions for you that are in your best interest.
  • Making a list of assets and debts. Without this, you could neglect to leave a particular asset to the specific person you intend. With a checklist in hand, this shouldn't be a concern.
  • Naming a guardian for your minor children. If you have children under the age of 18, you will need to name a guardian who will take over your parenting duties should you pass away.

With so many steps to take, it's easy to get off track when you're creating your first estate plan. However, if you know your goals and understand your legal rights, you can move through the process efficiently.

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