The holidays are upon us. You’ve already started making travel arrangements, thinking about gifts, and coordinating get-togethers with family and friends. You do the same thing every year for the exact same reason: planning now makes execution easier later. That logic can also apply to estate planning.

Many people avoid thinking about death or dying – approximately 60 percent of Americans do not have wills according to a recent survey – but estate planning is a selfless act that will make life easier for your loved ones when you’re gone.

Creating a will and estate plan can involve many complex decisions, so consider these tips from FindLaw.

  • Consult a professional. An attorney who specializes in wills and estate planning can make drafting a will an easy process. A straightforward will can cost as little as $750 to $1,500.
  • Think about your children. In the event of your untimely death, indicate in your will who you have selected to take care of your children, and provide financial support for childcare and education. If you have pets, you can make similar arrangements for your four-legged loved ones in your will.
  • Be specific. Your executor – the person designated to carry out your will – needs specific instructions. Be as detailed as possible when writing your will: use proper names, specific addresses for properties, and explicit dollar amounts when making dispositions.

Even if you don’t have time during the holidays to think about estate-planning, make it your New Year’s Resolution to contact an attorney and draft a will in 2012.

— Michelle Croteau, Director, Marketing Communications
with Robyn Hagan Cain, FindLaw Audience Team

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