What should be included in an estate plan

According to a 2016 survey from Rocket Lawyer, 64 percent of Americans don't have a will. While those living in Minnesota could struggle dealing with their own mortality, estate planning can make it easier for survivors to carry out a person's final wishes. An estate plan can also have benefits for people while they are alive. For instance, it could contain language that prevents unwanted medical treatment if a person becomes incapacitated.

Creating a will gives an individual more control over where his or her assets go after passing on. Without a will, assets may be transferred according to rulings made by a probate court. Even if family members or other intended beneficiaries get their inheritance, it could take more time and effort to get it. The first step to creating an estate plan is gathering documents such as 401(k) or bank statements.

It is also important to account for social media, email and other digital accounts. Parents of children under the age of 18 will want to designate guardians for those children in an estate plan as well. In addition to a will, a power of attorney and living trust should be basic components of an overall plan. It is important to note that beneficiary designations override any language in a will or trust as it relates to transferring property.

Thinking about estate plans today could make it easier for beneficiaries and others to find closure in the future. Instead of asking questions about what to do with social media accounts or money in a bank account, accounts can be closed and assets transferred in a timely manner. This may reduce the chances of family infighting or lengthy legal challenges during what is likely to be a difficult time.

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