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5 qualities of a solid estate plan

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A will is only the first step in end-of-life planning. A comprehensive estate plan, such as one that also includes a trust and advance health directives, is better in protecting your assets, wishes and beneficiaries.

As you meet with your lawyer to make your personalized estate plan, keep in mind that these five qualities will make it legally stronger.

1. Separate legal representation

Just because you are married does not mean you have to do everything with your spouse. It may be better to have individual estate plans and separate lawyers help you with them to ensure you both receive the wishes and protection you desire.

2. Consideration of increased life expectancy

With new or improved medications, medical technology and health accessibility, you are likely to outlive your parents. Factor in the longer lifespan of your generation to prevent using all your resources and not having any assets left to give.

3. Revocable trust committee

A revocable (living) trust is one you can amend while you are still alive. Once you become incapacitated, you can no longer manage it. Therefore, having a family committee to determine when you reach that point can prevent legal proceedings.

4. Maintainable lifestyle

As you formulate your estate plans, you must be realistic about the kind of life you can have with all sources of income. You may have to alter your lifestyle to ensure financial security or work longer to maintain the current lifestyle you have.

5. Preplanned and prepaid funeral

Many people include funeral arrangements in their plans, but that is only half the equation. The other half is to pay for them in advance as well. This takes the stress off your family and allows you more time and focus to shop around for the best prices. Remember to consider independent funeral homes, as they can be much more affordable.

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