Do you have an estate plan in place? If not, the reason may be based on the mistaken belief that you don’t need one. People often put off creating an estate plan because they think estate planning is only necessary for those who have acquired a significant amount of assets. To help dispel that myth, a estate planning attorney at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP explains why the value of your estate has nothing to do with the need for an estate plan.
Estate Planning Misconceptions
Most people associate estate planning with the distribution of assets after death. While it is true that deciding how your assets are distributed after you are gone is one of the most common estate planning goals, it is far from the only goal. On the contrary, a comprehensive estate plan typically includes numerous inter-related goals. As such, the value and/or size of your estate is in no way related to the need for an estate plan.
What Can an Estate Plan Do for You?
To better illustrate why the value of your assets should not dictate your need for an estate plan, it helps to learn some of the goals and objectives that can furthered with an estate plan, such as:
- Preventing the state from deciding what happens to your assets. Whether you have amassed a sizeable fortune or have only a modest estate, the assets that make up your estate must be legally transferred to new owners after your death. A simple Last Will and Testament allows you to decide who those new owners will be and which assets they will receive. If you die intestate, or without a Will, the state decides who receives your estate assets using the state’s intestate succession laws. Your assets don’t have to be extremely valuable for you to care who they are gifted to after you are gone.
- Avoiding probate. Another common estate planning goal is probate avoidance. Probate is the term given to the legal process that follows a death and during which a decedent’s estate assets are identified, debts of the estate are paid, and estate assets eventually transferred to the new owners. Formal probate can be time consuming an costly. Moreover, beneficiaries of the estate may have to wait a long time before receiving their inheritance. A well drafted estate plan, however, can help your estate avoid probate altogether.
- Protecting your minor child. If you are a parent, your child is your most valuable asset. Your estate plan can do much to help protect and provide for your child. Your Will offers the only official opportunity to nominate a Guardian for your child in the event one is ever needed. In addition, your minor child cannot inherit directly from your estate. Therefore, most parents create a trust within their estate plan to protect and guard the assets they intend to leave their child.
- Planning for the possibility of incapacity. Incapacity is not a concern that is limited to the elderly. In fact, you could become incapacitated tomorrow as the result of a tragic accident or debilitating illness. Your estate plan allows you to plan for that possibility by deciding ahead of time who will control your assets and who will make decision for you if incapacity does strike.
These are but a few of the things a comprehensive estate plan can help you accomplish without regard the size or value of your estate. While the need for a well thought out plan does increase as your estate grows, it should be clear by now that you do need an estate plan even if your estate is a modest one.
Contact a Estate Planning Attorney
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions, or you are ready to get started on your estate plan, contact an experienced estate planning attorney at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.