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Estate planning is a subject some people would rather avoid. After all, making arrangements for what happens to your assets following your own death isn't necessarily a pleasant subject.

But consulting with an experienced estate planning lawyer is something you should consider doing sooner, rather than later. Why?

Here are five reasons you shouldn't wait to call an estate planning lawyer:

Can you include pets in your will? Sure you can bequeath your animals to others as property, but what about setting aside part of your estate for your pets' continuing care?

For many people, a beloved pet can be just as much a part of the family as a spouse, child, or sibling. When it comes time to write a will, carving out a piece of their estate for their favorite animal companion may seem like the best way to ensure their pet is taken care of after they pass away.

However, it's generally best to avoid leaving gifts to pets in your will. Why?

When you die, your social media accounts and websites may be left in the hands of immediate family members or even deactivated. If you want to control your digital life after your actual death, you may need to consider a trust for your online presence.

Placing these accounts in the care of a trust during your life can ensure that they are maintained post-mortem and that private information may not accessed by those you don't trust.

Here are just a few reasons to consider a trust for your websites and social media accounts:

The practice of cremating and scattering the ashes of a loved one who has passed away is becoming increasingly popular in America. In fact, by 2016, the Cremation Association of North America projects that nearly half of all deceased Americans will be cremated.

But what should you be aware of when scattering a loved one's ashes? Are there any potential legal pitfalls that those planning their own final resting place or hoping to scatter a loved one's ashes should watch out for?

Here are some legal considerations to keep in mind if you want to scatter ashes:

Your estate plan is your legal legacy. And while you may be able to make end-of-life plans on your own, the question is: should you?

An estate plan is a lot more than just a list of your assets and who gets them when you die. Even if your wishes are relatively straightforward -- "I want everything to go to my kids" -- making sure those wishes will be legally effective can sometimes be more complicated than you might think.

Here are five things that an estate planning lawyer can do that you probably can't:

One of the most popular ways of passing on retirement savings, inherited IRAs, have little protection from bankruptcy after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued Thursday.

While other retirement devices are typically protected from creditors during a bankruptcy, the High Court determined that inherited IRAs were not for "essential needs" in the same way as other retirement structures, Reuters reports.

What does this mean for the future or present use of inherited IRAs?

You know what a durable power of attorney is, and the potential advantages of having one if you're ever incapacitated. (If not, check out Part I of our two-part series.)

So now that you're familiar with some of the basics, what else do you need to know?

Today we cover the whens and hows: When a durable power attorney starts, when it stops, and how to best go about getting one drafted.

Like its name suggests, a durable power of attorney can be a powerful long-term legal tool for managing your healthcare and finances during an emergency or other unexpected situation.

But what exactly can a durable power of attorney be used for, and how does it work? Today in Part I, we'll cover the "whats":

With conservatorships in the news, you might be wondering: What exactly is a conservatorship? And why should you care?

Whether used to make health-care decisions for an aging parent or to take over the finances of an incapacitated relative, conservatorships can be a powerful legal tool.

So when is a conservatorship appropriate? To help you learn more, here are five basic questions and answers about conservatorships:

Don't Wait Like Valerie Harper to Write Your Will

If you haven't drafted a will yet, what are you waiting for? Actress Valerie Harper answered that question earlier this week, and her experience offers some lessons for us all.

Harper, 74, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer last March. At the time of her diagnosis, Harper's doctors said that she may only have a few months to live.

Surprisingly, Harper told radio host Howard Stern that it wasn't until after her cancer diagnosis that she finally decided to put together a will, ABC News reports. Why did she wait so long?