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Before you go: Documents you need when you die

Image source: Eric Audras | ONOKY | Getty Images

» more from Financial Advisor Playbook

For most of us, the act of contemplating our own mortality ranks right up there with having a root canal.

A do-nothing approach won't ease the emotional or financial burden your loved ones will face when you're no longer around to call the shots, however. And it won't ensure your medical wishes are carried out in the event you become incapacitated.

"It's very difficult for your family to have to make end-of-life decisions on your behalf when they don't know what your wishes are," said Austin Frye, an estate attorney and certified financial planner with Frye Financial Center in Aventura, Fla.

Note how often siblings argue about what's best for mom or dad, which can tear families apart.

A few legal documents, finalized before the inevitable, can relieve pressure on your loved ones and provide you with peace of mind.

—By Shelly K. Schwartz, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 21 Nov., 2013

Image source: Eric Audras | ONOKY | Getty Images