Last Updated Feb 4, 2010 1:06 PM EST
First the good news: You probably won't get hit by a bus tomorrow. In fact, the odds are quite low. The bad news is that you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. What's more, actuarial tables don't lie: Someday, your proverbial bus will come. So from an estate planning standpoint, you have only two options. You can leave a tangled mess for your loved ones to sort through, or you can take a few simple steps that will make a difficult time easier. You can set up your finances so your wealth goes to your spouse and children, or you can procrastinate, increasing the risk that your cash ends up in the hands of the taxman, the lawyers or the evil husband of your ex-wife.
In the stories that follow, we'll guide you through a few simple steps to getting your financial house in order, helping your parents through their own estate planning, and taking the necessary steps when someone you love passes away.