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Things not to leave out of an estate plan

North Carolina residents are encouraged to have an estate plan that includes a will, a living will and power of attorney documents. Parents may also appoint guardians for their children in a will. It may be a good idea to include a financial overview statement as part of an estate plan. The overview will tell people where to find important information that can be used to access accounts or take other actions after a person passes on.

A master directory would include account numbers or other specific information regarding a bank, brokerage or other financial account. This information could be stored in digital form on a secured server. Those who choose to create a physical document are encouraged to keep it locked away from anyone who isn’t authorized to see it.

An estate plan should account for digital assets such as a website, bank account or social media account. Digital estate plans may also need to determine what happens to smartphones, computers or other electronic devices a person might have.

An advance directive might prevent a person from receiving treatment against his or her wishes. It can also dictate how a person’s body should be handled after that individual passes on. Finally, those who have pets can name their caregivers in a will and provide money for their care through a pet trust.

Those who need help creating or updating a will, trust or other estate planning documents may want to consult with an attorney. A legal representative may be able to explain the process of altering a will or other plan documents in accordance with state law. It may also be possible to learn how to create or make changes to beneficiary designations related to bank accounts, brokerage accounts or other personal property.