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By Christine Benz | 08-13-2013 12:00 PM

Get Started With Your Estate Plan

Find a good attorney, take stock of your assets, and draft these key documents to get your estate plan in gear.

Christine Benz: Ask people what's holding them back from creating an estate plan, and you might get answers like this.

Woman on the Street 1: I do think an estate plan is important for guardianship and making sure it's clear who is going to get your assets. But like a lot of things, when you can't answer all the questions, you just put if off, and that's what we've done.

Man on the Street: No, I do not have an estate plan, and I'm entirely unaware of what that might be.

Woman on the Street 2: I used to have a will, but I don't know that it's been updated in years.

Benz: But many financial planners and estate planning attorneys will tell you just how important having an estate plan really is.

Jill Metz: It's important for you to do an estate plan, because you have the control. If you don't do an estate plan, other people, meaning the state, are going to make decisions for you, and the people that you love are not going to receive all of your estate, or maybe none of the estate, if you don't do a plan.

Benz: But do you even get started with an estate plan? The first step is to find a qualified attorney. Start by asking friends and colleagues for referrals. It's best to seek referrals from individuals whose situations are similar to your own, especially if your situation is somewhat unique. The website for the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, a non-profit organization, allows you to search for highly qualified estate planning attorneys in your area.

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