Estate planning includes yourself

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Often, when we think about estate planning, we just think about the people who are getting money and assets: the heirs. The goal is to transfer the estate to them smoothly and efficiently. The plan focuses on the family’s well-being for years and even generations to come.

That is important, but it is still critical to remember that your estate planning also includes yourself.

For instance, you may want to set up a healthcare proxy or you may want to create a medical power of attorney. You have to think about the reality that an accident or illness could leave you incapacitated so that you can’t communicate with medical professionals and tell them about your own decisions. You need someone to do this on your behalf, or you at least want to leave documentation in place to guide the doctors in the hospital.

Setting up an estate plan also gives you a chance to talk to your heirs about what you want and expect. It’s often very hard for them to make key decisions because they’re trying to figure out if what you want and that they think is best are the same things. It can be stressful and may leave them with a lifetime of guilt. By talking to them, they know that they have your own desires and best interests in mind.

As you create your estate plan, remember that it is a complex, all-encompassing plan. Don’t just think about heirs. Don’t just think about wealth. Find out how to craft a plan that really gives you what you need at the end of your life.

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