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How to create a will: a primer

- List your significant assets, financial advisors, retirement plans, divorce papers, premarital agreements, and any other such documents.

- Gather employment benefits statements, life insurance policies, deeds to real property, partnership and business agreements and the last two years of income tax returns.

- If you're married, each spouse makes a separate will.

- Decide who will inherit your property. After you make your first choices, choose alternate beneficiaries, too, in case your first choices don't survive you.

- Choose an executor to handle your estate. Every will must name someone to serve as executor, to carry out the terms of the will. Be sure to let that person know you want them to serve as the executor so it's not a surprise.

- Identify a guardian for your children. If your children are under 18, decide who you want to raise them in the event that you and their other parent can't. You should also pick someone who can manage your children's property.

- Identify other decision makers to carry out your health & money choices for you if you're incapacitated.

Source: National Association of Estate Planners and Councils

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