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5 essential estate planning lessons

Regardless of your financial and personal situations, you need to become familiar with the benefits of creating an estate plan. For those who already have an estate plan, it is good practice to review your documents every so often.

Here are five essential estate planning lessons, courtesy of CNN, that may change your approach to the future:

-- No matter how much money you have, it is important that you at least create a basic estate plan.

-- There are many elements of a comprehensive estate plan, including a will, living will and power of attorney. Along with this, some people opt for a trust as it can provide additional benefits.

-- Get started by making a list of your assets. This can include but is not always limited to insurance policies, retirement savings, investments, bank accounts, real estate and business interests.

-- Everybody needs to create a will. If you do nothing else, make sure you create a will. This will dictate where and how you want your assets to be distributed upon your death.

-- Consider a trust, even if you don't consider yourself wealthy. It is a myth that trusts are only for those with millions of dollars. Once you learn more about the benefits, you may find it is best for you and your family.

These five lessons may change your current approach to estate planning. Furthermore, you may find that it is time to make changes to the plan you created in the past. When doing so, some get started by consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Source: CNN, "Get ahead of your estate planning" Nov. 17, 2014

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