If you own anything or have any money, believe it or not, you have an estate. And without a plan for when you die, your family could lose all of it.

Alexis Martin Neely, legal expert and author of Wear Clean Underwear, stressed the importance of preparing your living will, whether you have $5 in the bank or $5 million. Everyone should also prepare a healthcare directive and durable power of attorney, she said.

To protect your money in the event of your death, you also need a living trust, which is a document that divides your assets and bypasses probate court. Preparing a living trust doesn’t take a lot of time and it makes it as easy as possible for the people you love to take care of what you’ve worked hard for. And remember that when you leave money to someone, they do not have to pay taxes on it so long as the money stays in a trust for their lifetime.

The last thing everybody needs, as far as Martin Neely is concerned, is a comprehensive kid’s protection plan. If you have children, name guardians for the long-term as well as the short-term so that everyone knows what to do. You can do this for free at KidsProtectionPlan.com.

“If you love the people in your life, you’ve got to plan,” Martin Neely said.

SOURCE: CNBC On The Money