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Addressing your estate plan: Facing reality

Estate planning is a topic that is sometimes considered morbid or threatening, but the reality is that it must be done. With good estate plans in place, you can protect your beneficiaries, heirs and loved ones. You protect your estate and everything you've worked for, even if you're no longer here to appreciate it.

Estate planning usually involves three things, what happens if you fall ill or can't take care of yourself, provisions for end-of-life care and instructions for what happens after your death. It's hard to know exactly what you'll want or where you'll be years from now, but getting a plan started is a good idea.

Remember the kids

The most important part of an estate plan is to remember your children and their need for guardianship. If nothing else, you should find out who would be willing to care for your children if you passed away and who would be best at caring for them. Once you know that, you should agree to have this person as a guardian, so your children won't be at risk of entering into foster care or going with someone you don't want to raise them.

Make your wishes clear

An estate plan makes your wishes clear. If you want, think of it as a letter that dictates what you'd like to see happen in the future if you're not part of it. What do you want to see happen to your pet? What would you want to happen if you were unable to take care of yourself?

Focusing on the negative of an estate plan can make it feel morbid, but by realizing that it's in the best interests of the living, you can begin to make plans that are caring and that address the needs of others and yourself in a time of need.

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