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Beyond the will: how to effectively plan for the inevitable

Creating a will is a wise move for all residents of Kentucky and the United States, because the legally binding document dictates how one's affairs and assets will be handled and dispersed once the will's author passes on. The will is not the only component of estate planning, however, and the New York Times notes several other important elements that can considerably reduce the stress and strain placed on surviving loved ones when someone dies.

One such element of estate planning involves establishing power of attorney. Though "power of attorney" can refer to a person who is designated to make medical decisions on another's behalf, it, too, can refer to a person who is given the ability to manage the finances of someone else, whether that someone is living or dead.

Another important element of estate planning involves creating what is called a "living will." The living will makes stipulations regarding the type of medical care someone desires. For example, the document can contain information about a patient's wishes not to be resuscitated if his or her health takes a turn, or it can also dictate whether someone wants to be kept alive by artificial means, should the need arise.

Many people working to get their affairs in order also look to establish trusts. Per CNNMoney, a trust is designed to reduce gift and estate taxes that are collected following a death while determining how specific assets are allocated.  Wills are generally still needed even when trusts are in place, however, because trusts typically only deal with particular assets, and not an entire estate. 

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