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What are some important will-related decisions?

You've decided it's time to consider your estate plans and make a will to protect your assets and those you love. This is a great step toward a future filled with greater peace of mind and protection, but before you finish your will -- or even start it -- there are many other decisions you might have to make.

First, you'll have to decide who your beneficiaries will be. In some cases, estate law might dictate that you include certain relatives -- particularly children and spouses -- as beneficiaries, but you might also want to include other relatives or special friends. You'll also need to decide what assets you want to leave to various people. Your spouse and children might receive the bulk of your assets, for example, but you have a special piece of art that's meant for a long-time friend. No one will ever know this if you don't put it in writing in a will.

Next, you'll have to choose a person to execute your estate. You'll probably want to pick someone you trust and who is honorable and diligent, since you want him or her to handle your estate in the most legal manner possible that is also in keeping with your wishes.

If you have minor children or adult dependents, you should consider how they will be cared for if you are gone. Minor children will need guardians, for example, and you might want to consider adding a trust to your estate plans to provide for dependents in the future. A legal professional can help you understand the differences between wills and trusts and how they can work together within your estate plan.

These are only a few of the things you should consider when making a will or beginning estate planning. Speaking with a lawyer can help you understand what other decisions are involved in the process.

Source: National Caregivers Library, "Making a Will: The Basics," accessed Feb. 26, 2016

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