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Chapter 17. Death, Taxes, and Other Impo... > Wills and Estate Planning - Pg. 186

Death, Taxes, and Other Important Stuff 186 If you really don't want to be a procrastinator, you can make arrangements and prepayments for your funeral long before you die so that your loved ones won't have to deal with all that. Beware of con artists, though. Scams are all too common. If in doubt, check out the National Funeral Directors Association's Consumer Tips on Prepaying Your Funeral at or call 800-228-6332 for assistance. Wills and Estate Planning Many people don't understand the difference between estate planning and preparing a will, so they put off doing either. Basically, a will is a part of your overall estate planning. The will is the document that says who gets what, who should be the guardian of any minor children you have, and who you want to serve as executor. (Your executor is the person who handles your estate, whether that estate is a bank account with $100 in it and some personal effects or a multimillion-dollar portfolio of prop- erty, cash, and investments.) Some people only need to write a simple will. But others, with more significant assets, need to do estate planning with the help of attorneys and financial advisors. Estate planning is basically a form of financial planning in which you do things such as set up trusts or invest and bequest your money in ways that will minimize the taxes your heirs will have to pay on the gifts you leave them. According to Stephen Rosenberg in his book Last-Minute Estate Planning (a perfect title for procrastinators!), "Estate planning is the process by which, during your life and after your death, you can control your property in the manner you desire, minimizing all fees, taxes, and court interference, preserving for yourself, your family, and those you choose, the estate you have worked so hard to create." You're Not Alone Ten years ago when I remarried, it crossed my mind that if something happened to me, would my husband know what sentimental items I'd want passed on to my three daughters? We talked about wills then, again three years later when I got pregnant, bought software to make wills two years later, reminded ourselves each year after that, but haven't done it. I think it's procrastination of facing the inevitable--death. --Cynthia D., professional counselor The Least You Need to Know · Putting off dealing with finances usually results from lack of organization, lack of knowledge, or emotional problems with money. · Paying bills, budgeting, and getting out of debt are a matter of facing up to your problems and responsi- bilities and finding the right strategies. · You're never too young or too old to make financial plans for the future. · There's nothing fun about filing your taxes late. · You may not want to think about death, but estate planning and will preparation can let you rest in peace when the time comes.