Estate planning is for everyone, regardless of your financial situation. Even someone who has only minimal possessions like a car and/or checking account, needs advance planning.
What is estate planning?
Estate planning is most simply a plan for who gets your stuff, how much of they get, and when they get it. There are many other considerations, especially if you have minor children, namely identifying a guardian and a financial manager on their behalf. Estate planning also encompasses life insurance and businesses.
A will only provides instructions for what happens to your possessions and money. Your will still must go through probate, which can be expensive and complicated. A living trust is preferred by many to help avoid probate court. An estate planning professional can determine if this is the best option for your estate.
The best laid plans are worthless without being well organized. Does your family know that you have an estate plan and a will? Do they know where you keep your insurance papers and bank records? Where is the title to your house and/or car?
Don’t forget that estate planning is not a one-time event. Family or financial situations (or state laws) may change. Divorces happen, marriages occur, and children grow up. You can’t take your belongings with you, and you don’t want your family or friends left scrambling when you die. They will have enough to worry about after your death, and a well organized estate plan is the best gift you can leave behind. If you don’t make arrangements, your state will make them for you, and it will likely be more time consuming and more costly to do it their way.
A persons estate needs are unique, consult an experience estate planning attorney NOW, not “some day.”