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Avoid leaving behind a mess by making an estate plan

Putting together an estate plan might not seem very important at first thought. Some people even have the “if I’m dead, I won’t care” mentality. While you might not care about what happens to the stuff you leave behind, you should care about how it affects others. In the end, do you want to be remembered for all the good things you did or for the mess you left behind?

When you’re convinced, it’s time to consider preparing a variety of documents. To start, a will is a good idea. It will outline things like who gets all your stuff and money, and who will take care of your pets and minor children if you pass.

When it comes to money, if you have bank accounts, make sure you designate beneficiaries. And even more importantly, make sure you update your beneficiaries from time to time. Those designations will trump anything written in your will. The same goes for life insurance and retirement accounts.

At the very least, it’s important to designate transfer-on-death beneficiaries for things like your car. Go one step further and write up a beneficiary deed for your house so it transfers when you die.

Finally, who do you want making health care decisions for you if you are unable to? That’s the person you can designate in your durable power of attorney. If you have specific ideas about end-of-life decisions, putting together a living will is important.

It may seem too tedious or too expensive to make an estate plan, but in the end, it is worth the peace of mind. 

Source: Star Tribune, “Resolve to get your affairs in order,” Tim Engle, Feb. 19, 2014

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