Estate planning isn’t just for the wealthy. It’s to make sure your family is taken care of if something happens to you.

The basic pieces of estate planning are a will, living will, durable power of attorney and health-care proxy.

Will
The most important part of your estate plan is your will. It names your heirs—the people you want to receive your money and possessions after you die. If you have children or dependents, a will also names the person you want to take care of them. In most states, you need a lawyer to create a will, but it needn’t be very expensive. If you die without a will, the state will decide who will get your money and who will take care of your children.

Living Will
A living will says what types of medical treatment you want—or don’t want—if you get sick and cannot tell the doctor what you want.

Durable Power of Attorney
This legal paper states that you give someone permission to make decisions about your money and property if you become sick or injured and are not able to make them yourself. Obviously, you’ll want to choose someone you trust with these important decisions. A lawyer can help you set up a durable power of attorney.

Health-Care Proxy
With this document, you name a person who will make decisions about your health care if you get sick and can’t make those decisions by yourself. Be sure your doctor has a copy of your health-care proxy.

Managing Your Money: Simple Estate Planning

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