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It is not just important for people to have an estate plan in place. It is even more important to have the right estate plan in place for their future needs. So, when people in Maryland are setting up an estate plan, they should follow a checklist to be sure they have covered all of their needs.

It seems pretty obvious to some people, but the first thing that an estate plan should include is a will. This will let loved ones know how those who have passed on want their assets distributed. It can also appoint an executor for the estate. A durable power of attorney is important to designate who will handle the business and health care decisions when people become unable to do so because of a disability or illness. A power of attorney for health care, or a living will, is also helpful for the medical decisions.

People can also have revocable living trusts which will allow them to transfer, manage and even distribute assets while they are still alive. This can help them avoid probate after their deaths. There should be a list of all assets that people have in their estate plan. The list should also state where those assets can be found for ease of those left behind. Additionally, some people choose to have a "do not resuscitate" order in case of life-threatening situations.

Although it is entirely up to the people who are putting their estate plans in place, some people wish to leave letters to their loved ones, such as a long-time spouse, to tell them things about their end-of-life wishes. Some people just want to leave a note to their children about raising them or about the many struggles and privileges of being a parent. Maryland residents who are ready to create an estate plan may wish to speak with an attorney to help put the plan in place.

Source: marketwatch.com, "Review your estate plan against this 14-point checklist", Art Koff, July 20, 2015

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