3 essential items to include in your estate plan

If you haven't given much thought to what will happen to your assets when you die, there is no time like the present. While most people tend to think that death is something that they have years or decades to prepare for, the reality is that none of us know exactly what tomorrow will bring. This is what makes it essential to begin the estate planning process as soon as possible.

When you begin building your estate plan, there are some essential documents you should include. For example, if you have minor children, you should add a guardianship designation in you estate plan. Here are three other estate plan must-haves.

Will

A will is often the main component of any estate plan. Whether you own real estate in Battle Creek or you feel like you don't have many assets, you should have a will. This will ensure that the executor will distribute your property in accordance to your wishes as stated in your will.

When you prepare your will, be sure to word it correctly and consistently. For instance, if you have already listed your niece as the beneficiary of your retirement account, you do not want to leave the balance of the account to your nephew in the will.

Beneficiaries

Naming primary beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries are very important, especially for life insurance policies and retirement accounts. If the primary beneficiary you name on the accounts cannot take possession of the asset for one reason or another, then it is up to the courts on how to distribute the property. This is where the contingent beneficiary comes in. If you have named a secondary beneficiary that can take control of the asset then the courts may not have to become involved.

Health care power of attorney

An estate plan is not only for the distribution of your assets after your passing. It is also a useful tool in case you become incapacitated. For example, if you suffer an accident that leaves you in a comatose state, you will need someone to speak and act on your behalf. The health care power of attorney will allow the person you have chosen to make medical decisions for you while you are incapacitated.

If you are considering starting the estate planning process, do not forget to include these essential documents. An incomplete estate plan can be almost as bad as not having one at all.

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