Think of estate planning as doing a favor for your family. These sites explain why you need a will, and why that's just the beginning of the paperwork required for entering into the hereafter.
Why plan? A mutual fund giant, the Vanguard Group, gives reasons for planning what becomes of your stuff after you die. Among them: to provide for loved ones; to support a favorite charity; to minimize taxes and expenses, and to set expectations for your survivors, so they don't have to argue about money over your dead body.
Bet on it. "There is a 100 percent chance you will die," notes the introduction to this page at the Motley Fool investing site. There's a short outline of the most critical to-do items, including a will, a living will, and a durable power of attorney, allowing a person you select to make decisions for you if you are incapacitated. A link down the page offers advice on "how you can plan your estate in 60 seconds."
Unwelcome chore. In a video from CBS News, SmartMoney.com contributing editor Stephanie AuWerter discusses "the chore no one wants to do." She explains why wills are not just for the wealthy, and she talks about long-term-care insurance and the importance of updating beneficiaries for retirement accounts: "Probably, you don't want your ex to inherit your retirement fund."
Digital estates. The Law Vibe site brings up "dealing with online data after death." It asks, "What happens to your blog if you die? What happens to your Facebook account? What about Twitter, MySpace, and most importantly, eHarmony?" Those and other popular sites and e-mail services have varying policies on who, if anyone, gets access to your accounts after you die. The author's suggestion is to update your will with "specific provisions for who will take ownership of your intellectual property and any data that you leave behind." Another thing to consider in the digital age is what to have said on your behalf in a postmortem Tweet.