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An estate plan could be the perfect holiday gift for Californians

Here's a holiday gift you probably never thought of giving: an estate plan.

What better gift can there be, though, than peace of mind for your loved ones that you have taken care of everything they'll need should you become injured, ill or pass away?

And for you, it certainly will be a relief to know that you have done what needs to be done.

Here are the documents your estate plan should include:

  • A will
  • A living will, otherwise known as an advance medical directive
  • A trust if you have a more complex financial or personal situation
  • A durable power of attorney for health care or if you are mentally incapacitated
  • Life insurance, with named beneficiaries
  • A letter of instruction that contains your personal wishes
  • Instructions for organ donation, especially if it isn't specified on your driver's license

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, you should specify a guardian for your children, as well as a backup guardian. Carefully consider who you select for this vital responsibility, and make sure the people you name are willing to act in that capacity.

This isn't necessarily a gift you'll wrap and put under the tree; no one wants to discuss end-of-life matters on one of the most joyous holidays. Still, it needs to be done, and wouldn't it be nice knowing it has been accomplished going into the first of the year? You can't wait for a serious illness, or until it is too late, to put off this greatest gift to your family. A California attorney who works with estate plans can help you.

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