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Know when to update your estate plan

Your estate plan is what your loved ones will follow to distribute your assets when you pass away, but there are other points that you must include in it. All adults, regardless of age or wealth status, should have a plan in place.

Thinking about what you want to happen when you aren't here any longer might not be a pleasant experience, but you can take away a lot of stress from your family members if you have everything in order.

Trusts and asset distribution

Your assets can move to heirs through your will but trusts provide benefits and protections that aren't present in a will. There are many types of trusts, so discuss your wishes and your beneficiary's situation with your estate planning attorney to find an option that fits the situation. You also need to ensure that your financial accounts have a payable on death designation. This includes your life insurance policy, bank accounts and investment portfolio.

End of life plans

Your end of life plans are part of the estate plan. You can outline what type of medical care you will permit if you can't make decisions for yourself. Setting up powers of attorney gives someone the ability to make decisions for you. You likely need two of these set up. One is for someone to handle your finances and the other is for your health care. You can name the same person for both or you can choose two different people. Remember, you need individuals who can make decisions that you'd want even if they are under pressure or dealing with grief.

Periodic reviews

You can't set your estate plan up and then forget about it. You will have to review it periodically. If nothing in your life changes, you should review it at least every three years. This gives you the opportunity to ensure that everyone who is named in the plan is still alive and that everything remains set up to reflect your wishes. You also need to review the plan if you have major life changes, such as an increase or decrease in assets, a marriage, a divorce, the birth of a child, your children becoming adults or having grandchildren.

Making sure that your loved ones know where to find your estate plan is important. You might consider leaving a letter of instruction somewhere so that they can refer to it to find out your immediate instructions and where to find specific documents they need.

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