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Who needs a will?

Anyone that owns possessions and has financial responsibilities should have a will. A will doesn't just detail who receives what upon your death, it also directs your survivors how to pay your bills and distribute the remaining funds if any are left. It allows your family to put your final affairs in order.

A will is part of an estate plan. For many, the will combined with a living will and medical power of attorney are enough to settle an estate, but for others, a trust could be beneficial. Speaking with a financial planner as well as a legal professional can help you determine what you need to effectively plan your estate.

One of the first things you need to know is where you stand with assets and liabilities. Knowing what you own and what you owe can help you decide who your beneficiaries will be. If there is a possession you want to leave to someone that currently is not completely paid for, such as your home, making arrangements for the house to be paid off upon your death and bequeathed to a particular person should be made a part of your estate plan. You should also determine who will handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated and cannot perform these tasks yourself.

Along those same lines, you should decide who will make medical decisions for you in the event you can no longer do so. An important aspect that you don't want to overlook is asking those you have chosen to carry out your last requests if they are willing to take on the responsibility. Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of making such important decisions for others, so it is only fair to ask a person if they are willing to act on your behalf, especially if some of your decisions might not rest well with family members.

Preparing your will makes sure your wishes are carried out. The will allows you to pick who you want to take care of your kids, who gets your collection of pocket watches and who determines which organizations get donations from your estate. Although some might not feel a will is necessary, not having a will can lead to heartache and confusion that your loved ones will have to deal with while mourning the loss of a loved one.

Source: CNN Money, "Get Ahead of You Estate Planning" Dec. 03, 2014

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