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4 estate planning questions to get started

Estate planning is something you have never addressed because you just did not know where to get started. Now you're thinking you absolutely want to get a plan in place. What should you do first?

To begin, just start by asking yourself a few basic questions. These can help you determine your specific needs and start looking into the options you have.

  • Do your children need a guardian? If you have children who are minors or who have special needs, you may need to appoint someone to care for them if you (and potentially your spouse) pass away unexpectedly.
  • Do you have medical preferences? Part of estate planning is using things like a medical power of attorney or an advance directive to lay out your medical preferences in advance. You may not be able to make these decisions when they're needed, and having them written down gives your family and the medical professionals an idea of what you desire.
  • What assets do you own? Don't start by writing down who gets what. Instead, just start by taking inventory. Many people have assets that they forget about, and an inventory helps you keep from overlooking something that could later cause a dispute.
  • What happens to complex assets? Planning to divide savings and actual money may feel simple, but you also want to consider more complex assets like businesses, investments and real estate.

These questions can help you begin thinking about what your estate plan needs to accomplish. That's the first step. Then you need to learn about the legal options you have to accomplish your goals and get the right plan in place for your family.

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