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What should you include in your estate plan?

Estate planning is crucial for all people, regardless of age or financial status. Elements of estate plans offer protection to your loved ones, but they can also protect you while you are still alive.

That is why estate plans must include certain items, which ensure your assets, your family, and yourself remain protected, no matter what. Here are a few essential elements to include.

Instructions on guardianship

Wills allow parents to name guardians for their minor children. In case the unthinkable happens, this person will step forward and assume the role of caregiver. If you do not specify guardians in your will, the court will decide on your behalf. The court does make these decisions in the best interest of the children at the center of the case, but virtually all parents would rather choose on their own. By including a guardian or guardians in your will, you will experience significant peace of mind.

Power of attorney

A major illness or injury can leave you incapacitated and unable to handle financial matters on your own. A power of attorney allows you to select a person to take over financial matters, such as paying bills, selling property, or any other essential tasks. The process of naming a personal financial representative after the fact is often quite intensive, so it is best to make the decision before disaster strikes.

Accurate beneficiary designations

When purchasing a life insurance policy or starting a retirement plan, you must complete beneficiary designations. Upon your passing, the proceeds will go directly to the heirs you name on the documents. If you do not update designations during your life, you run the risk of the wrong person receiving an inheritance. Keep in mind that beneficiary designations supersede wills and other estate planning tools.

Be sure to review your entire estate plan after any major life changes, such as a new marriage or divorce. You should also conduct a general review every three years or so to ensure the plan still meets your needs.


Christine S. Cook has earned a reputation in the legal community for her professionalism and among her clients for the care and personal attention she gives to every case.

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