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Your children: Without a will, the state decides who gets them, not you

It's true. Even if you've asked a family member or friend to take care of your children, the state doesn't have to choose them.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — When you hear the word “estate” you might think of a sprawling home with a multi-car garage and a guest house.
Certainly, someone who lives in a house like that needs will,
but what about the rest of us who live in regular homes or who rent?

"The most important thing is that we all have stuff. It may not be valuable, but it's valuable to someone in your family.
Settling an estate, and going through probate, it's not a pleasant process. When you have a roadmap, it is much easier, and it helps avoid family conflicts," said Jill Schlesinger, CBS News Business Analyst.

Read: Can you inherit debt? 

Who will take care of your children?

You may say, we've talked to the people we want to do that. That’s a great step, but if your wishes aren't documented, the agreement you made may not happen.

"In that will, you get to name guardians for your young kids. So, if you don't have a will, guess what happens, the state where you live decides who gets your kids. Some of your siblings might be great parents. Others, not so much," said Schlesinger.

Besides your will, it's a good idea to have a Power of Attorney. This person can make business-related decisions for you. Let's say you get into a major car accident and you're in the hospital and not alert for a week or so.

This Power of Attorney can move your money around to pay your mortgage so you don't get behind.
A Health Power of Attorney or a Health Care Proxy is also a good document to have. It makes your wishes known and the person can make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you can’t.


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