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How to Develop Your Estate Plan

Choosing an attorney, designating helpful individuals, and drafting documents now can provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Christine Benz: Hi, I'm Christine Benz for Morningstar.com. Estate planning means that you're crafting a plan for a time when you can't make decisions on your own, either due to death or disability. Who would you want to manage your healthcare or financial affairs, or take care of your minor children? Who do you want to inherit your assets? That's what estate planning is about.

The first step in the estate planning process is to find a qualified attorney. It's best to seek referrals from individuals whose situations are similar to your own, especially if your situation is somewhat unique. The website for the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, a nonprofit organization, allows you to search for highly qualified estate planning attorneys in your area.