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If you’re like most people, you aren’t eager to spend time thinking about what would happen if you became unable to direct your own medical care because of illness, an accident, or advanced age. However, if you don’t do at least a little bit of planning — writing down your wishes about the kinds of […]

Your health care directives — including your living will and power of attorney for health care — might be the most important estate planning documents you ever make. Giving your family clear, written direction about your end-of-life wishes can spare them anguish — and make sure you get the kind of care you want. With […]

The 4 legal documents every adult should have One part of being responsible to your family and friends is having the right legal documents in place to protect them if something happens to you. Most people procrastinate doing this because they think it’ll be expensive or time consuming–and, of course, preparing for tragedy isn’t cheery.…

Everything Baby Boomers Need to Know About Estate Planning

Don’t have an up-to-date estate plan? You’re not alone. More than 70 percent of Americans don’t, including more than half of all baby boomers. That’s why we’re sharing our best tips for creating one.

1. Everyone needs an estate plan.

These are critical documents that everyone—rich or poor, young or old—should have.

2. Estate planning doesn’t have to be scary, complicated, or expensive for you.

Many people are overwhelmed by the prospect of making a legal will and other documents, but they shouldn’t be. You can go to FreeWill and make a fully valid legal will at no cost—and most people need less than 25 minutes to finish. (Similar tools exist for other important documents, too.)

If you have a more complex estate (complicated family dynamics, property overseas, etc.) you can use FreeWill (or other online tools) to get your affairs in order and find a local lawyer to finalize the documents.

3. You can use estate planning to change the world.

Many people on FreeWill include gifts to a charity or cause that has been important to them in their lifetimes. So far, people have committed $119 million to their favorites causes.

For most, a charitable gift in a will (often called a “bequest”) is the single largest gift they’ll ever make. And it’s a way to know that you’ll make a massive positive impact for decades to come, no matter what happens.

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4. Have a plan for your kids…

If you have children who are minors, picking a legal guardian is one of the most important parts of your plan. Explicitly naming a guardian (and a secondary option) can keep your family out of some very messy decision-making and make sure that you’re the final decision-maker on this crucial decision.

5. …and your pets.

If you have pets, you may want to choose a guardian for them as well. In many cases, people choose to allocate some money to go to the pet’s guardian to make sure they are cared for should anything happen to you.

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6. Don’t just share your stuff. Share your values, too.

If you’re leaving your prized stamp collection, 1973 Mustang, or family photo album to someone, you may want to include a note about what it meant to you and why you decided to share it with them.

Many people also choose to write a “legacy letter,” detailing their core values and life lessons for subsequent generations. Families cherish these letters.

7. Do it now, update it often.

Many people think wills are set in stone, but it’s best practice to update them every few years as your assets and life circumstances change. Good times to consider updating your will include: when you move, buy a new house, get married or divorced, or have a new child.

On FreeWill (and some other online tools), you can save your documents and update them whenever you wish. A lawyer may also charge less to update existing docs than to make totally new ones.

8. Wills are just the start.

Creating a legal will is a great start, but you’ll also want a couple of other key documents for comprehensive end-of-life planning. These often include:

  • Durable financial power of attorney: Determines who has authority to make financial decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated.
  • Advance healthcare directive: Usually includes a “healthcare power of attorney” which designates who has the authority to make healthcare decision on your behalf if you’re incapacitated, as well as a “living will” which outlines your specific healthcare values and wishes.
  • Burial and funeral instructions: Should be left separately from a will.
  • Beneficiary designations: Made directly on assets like bank accounts, IRAs and life insurance policies, designating who inherits those assets.
  • Living trusts: A separate legal entity that you can “fund” with your assets that some people use as the primary method of designating who will receive their assets (instead of a will.) They are more complicated to set up and maintain than a will, but may save you from having your estate go through probate and allow for additional flexibility in how you can allocate your assets. (They are especially helpful in states with long and expensive probate processes.)

9. Make sure your loved ones can find your documents.

A perfect will is no good if your family can’t find it when they need to. Make sure a few close people know exactly where your estate plans are, and how to access them if they must.

10. Treat yourself.

Estate planning isn’t always easy to think about. Once you’re done, reward yourself with a dinner out, a hike, a round of golf, or whatever else makes you happy.

(Disclosure: FreeWill is part of the HearstLab community, which is run by Country Living‘s parent company.)

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Content retrieved from: https://www.countryliving.com/life/a22757698/estate-planning-freewill/.

Don't have an up-to-date estate plan? You're not alone. More than 70 percent of Americans don't, including more than half of all baby boomers. That's why we're sharing our best tips for creating one. 1. Everyone needs an estate plan. These are critical documents that everyone—rich or poor, young or old—should have. 2. Estate planning [...]

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