While estate planning is often associated with the rich, everyone can benefit from putting their legal affairs in order - even if you’re not wealthy. Here’s why;
You make the decisions, not the government
Without an estate plan, your state legislature decides who gets your assets and, if you have minor children, who will care for them. In addition, without estate planning, the state courts will typically pass on any assets you own at your death to your closest relatives, even if that would not have been your choice.
Estate planning lets you include specific people in specific roles
Another critical part of estate planning involves creating legal documents allowing specific people in your life to manage your financial affairs and make your health care decisions while you are alive but incapacitated. By identifying these people in legal documents, you avoid making that don’t align with your beliefs and goals.
Asset inventory helps you organize your stuff and prepare your family
A positive byproduct of estate planning is that it encourages you to create an inventory of your assets and where they are. This inventory makes it easier for your family upon your incapacity or death. Your loved ones will have a complete outline at their fingertips and won’t be forced to search high and low for what you have or don’t have. You can start your estate plan without having this asset inventory, and you can update your inventory over time while storing it in a place that would be accessible to your executor or trustee upon your death.
Why create an estate plan?
Estate planning gives your family a roadmap to follow when you die or become incapable, covering your distribution instructions regarding things big or small, and designating who will have the authority to oversee that your wishes are honored. Failing to address your estate may result in wishes not being followed or forcing those closest to you to have to deal with an administrative mess. You do not need to be wealthy to protect your family and assets with a comprehensive estate plan. Today, with online estate planning tools, creating an estate plan that can work for you and your family is both low cost and accessible to everyone.