Lawyers can make the whole subject of estate planning seem as complicated -- and intimidating -- as advanced calculus. But for entrepreneurs, the point is really very simple: by planning ahead, you can ensure that your family and your business can go on without you.

Getting Your Affairs in Order, by Elmo A. Petterle (Ten Speed Press, 800-841-2665, 1993), is a 116-page manual that sticks to the simple approach. The $12.95 paperback won't save your company vast amounts of taxes -- you do need an estate planner's help with that -- but it is chock-full of practical suggestions (such as tips for survivors) and comprehensive checklists that even include contacts for the sale of assets, if that is your survivors' wish. Buy this book. Your family, your employees, and your customers may one day have reason to bless your investment.

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