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A guide to creating your first estate plan

The prospect of creating your estate plan may be intimidating and even uncomfortable, but it is not as complex or morbid as you may assume. In fact, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when you finish it. Still, it is normal and understandable to feel a little bit of apprehension.

Writing your first estate plan is a great step to protecting your property and providing peace of mind for yourself and the people you care about. Here are some suggestions for estate planning for the first time. 

Learn about the process

It is a good idea to have a basic grasp of how estate plans work and the laws that control them. There are various state and federal laws that impact the estate planning process, from writing a legitimate will to dispersing an estate to beneficiaries. Gain an understanding of estate plans by reading books and trusted online sources, and consulting professionals.

Inventory your assets

To write a will and other documents, you must have a solid knowledge of what you own. This includes both tangible and intangible assets. Tangible assets include homes, vehicles and personal possessions. Common intangible assets include bank accounts, stocks, retirement plans and life insurance policies. 

Create a will

The next step is to determine who receives what when you pass away. A will is the core foundation of any estate plan. Thankfully, it is relatively simple to create one. 

Select a personal representative

As you write your will, you must determine who you want to be responsible for carrying out the contents of your will. Whomever you trust to do this should be the person named as your estate's personal representative. 

Consider other documents and strategies

Depending on your preferences and the size of your estate, you may need to undertake other estate planning measures. You may want to create a trust, minimize estate taxes or appoint a power of attorney.

Store documents in a secure place

Once you create estate planning forms, store them safely. You may consider keeping your documents in a fire safe or a drawer in your home office. 

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