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State of the Estate What is estate planning and why should you be doing it now?

By Paul DeCeglie

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What is estate planning and how can it help you? If you've never considered the question, think of it this way: You're not going to be around forever. Plan on it. If you haven't yet made a will, do it today. You can download a "No-Frills" will at Nolo.com, but that's only a temporary measure. It doesn't deal with complex distribution of assets, joint holdings or your (hopefully) multimillion-dollar start-up. Those and other details are covered by estate planning.

Estate planning can be summarized in three words: Who gets what? "When you die, something will happen to all your stuff: investments, real estate, business assets, clothing, jewelry and cars," explains Ric Edelman, financial advisor and founder of Edelman Financial Services Inc. in Fairfax, Virginia. "You have the opportunity now to dictate what will happen to [those things]."

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