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Estate Planning Week highlights importance of estate planning

This week is National Estate Planning Week so we feel this is the perfect time to discuss the benefits of having an estate plan. Many people do not like to think about their death and what they want to happen to their possessions. However, dying without an estate plan can lead to frustrating arguments and additional costs for your loved ones after you pass away. 

Regardless of your age or the amount of wealth you have accumulated, it is vital to have an estate plan in Minnesota. Creating an estate plan does not need to be complicated and many people will benefit from having a simple estate plan that includes a will and a durable power of attorney. There are additional documents individuals should consider having but every person's estate plan should be catered to his or her individual needs. 

A will is an essential part of an estate plan. A will documents how your assets and property will be distributed upon your death. A will can also appoint guardians for minor children. Wills go into effect after you die and go through probate court to transfer your assets. 

Since a will only goes into effect after you die, it is also important to have a durable power of attorney for your health to document your wishes if you are incapacitated. This document will appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. The person appointed in the durable power of attorney will also be responsible for managing your assets. 

It may also be beneficial to have a living will. A living will documents your wishes for your medical care including life-support measures if you become terminally ill. A living will does not authorize anyone to make decisions for you, but it can help loved ones know your wishes and help them make the best decision on your behalf regarding life-sustaining measures. 

Creating an estate plan has many benefits, with one of the biggest ones providing a sense of relief that your wishes will be known by your loved ones if anything should happen to you. 

Source: The Spectrum, "Five important estate planning documents," Dustin Schofield, Sept. 27, 2013

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