Estate Planning Isn’t Just For The Wealthy

There are many facets of an estate plan – it’s a pretty broad term, and way too many of us have the perception that we don’t have enough money to engage in estate planning. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and that mindset can put you and your family at great peril. Below are a few reasons why everyone, even those with smaller estates, need to engage in planning. 

First, we all have a different financial picture, and each of us comes to the table with a unique set of circumstances. Some clients may have a large estate, with most of it in real estate. Other clients may have a house and not much else. Still others may have a collection, be it cars or other valuables. You may be surprised to find out that your situation is not as simple as you assume it is.

Second, family is family, and there are thorny issues that exist in many families. Maybe the kids don’t get along great. Perhaps there is an icy relationship between you and your son-in-law. It doesn’t matter if the estate is worth $100,000 or $10 million. The sensitive family issues are still present and must be dealt with in a way that you can still leave a positive legacy. In other words, there is more to estate planning than just lowering taxes. Even if you have what you’d consider to be a ‘small’ estate, it is still an estate and still requires planning.

Finally, there are several common misconceptions when it comes to smaller estates. One is that a Last Will & Testament is by itself always sufficient (or even worse, that no will at all is required). The will must be carefully drafted, based on the considerations of your circumstances. A will is a good start, but you also need to ensure you have valid and well-drafted recent powers of attorney in case of incapacity. Most people think about the part after life, but not the part during life where we are here but unable to care for ourselves or do things we used to do. That is where a power of attorney becomes so vital. 

The worst time to start thinking about estate planning is when your health is deteriorating. The best time to plan your estate is when no alarm bells are going off –i.e., no health issues, no major crises, etc. If you wait until it’s too late, you may not have the opportunity to plan and you may leave your family a real mess. If you haven’t planned your estate yet, no matter the size of your estate, contact our office today to get started.