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You love your family. Why not protect them with a comprehensive estate plan?

When most of us think of family, we think of loving, trusted and reliable people -- the people we know will always have our best interests and those of our other family members at heart.

However, this deep trust and understanding of our family members can also lead to questionable estate planning decisions, especially if you assume that your feelings for your family -- or your verbal agreements with them -- will ensure that your estate will be handled properly when you are gone.

Regardless of how close you are with your loved ones, it is important to create proper estate planning documents, not only to ensure that your wishes are carried out, but also to protect your family from confusion and potential heartache.

If you don't yet have a last will and testament, now is the time to create one. Additionally, powers of attorney for property and personal care can help ensure that financial matters and your well-being are properly tended to in the event that you become incapacitated.

You can also address your unique family situation by establishing a trust, which can help to minimize estate taxes, as well as distribute assets as you see fit.

Although we may assume that life will automatically continue as it always has, the reality is that life is full of surprises, and you can help ensure that those surprises are good ones for the most part by creating a comprehensive estate plan that protects your best interests and those of your family.

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