No one lives forever, but statistics show that many American adults behave as though they will. LexisNexis shows that 55 percent of U.S. adults do not have a will or other estate plan. Estate planning may be difficult to address, but it can contribute to peace of mind and harmony among family members.

Here are three things to keep in mind about estate planning:

Don’t try to go it alone. Many books or software programs claim to help you plan your estate on your own. Without a qualified lawyer, however, a do-it-yourself approach could put your life’s work at risk. Instead, meet with a trusted estate attorney. Bring copies of important documents, including previous wills or trusts, powers of attorney, life insurance, and employment benefits. Ask your lawyer about his or her fees and make sure they are part of a written agreement.

Account for long-term care. While many people take out long-term care insurance policies, these policies often lapse before they are used. This most often occurs because of cognitive decline. Estate planning advisers and clients should be sure to make plans for cognitive decline, with a durable power of attorney. The agent should be made aware of when and how to step in to keep long-term care policies current.

Don’t neglect your digital assets. If you want your loved ones to know what to do with online-only bank accounts, Paypal.com balances, e-books, photos, and other “possessions” in the digital realm, include these assets in your estate planning. Take inventory of these accounts and let your heirs know where to find them.

Protect your loved ones from being confused and overwhelmed when you’re gone. To take the first step toward responsible estate planning, contact us. The McKay Law Firm offers free consultations to help you plan for the future with confidence.