Who Needs an Estate Plan?

The question should really be “Who Doesn’t Need an Estate Plan?” As you’ll see below, estate planning is for all people of all ages and stages of life. An estate plan may consist of a simple will, trust, and power of attorney, or it could be much more complex involving sophisticated trust planning techniques. The bottom line is that estate planning is for everyone, regardless of whether you are young or old, rich or poor, married or single.

Yeah, But Do YOU Really Need an Estate Plan?Father and son

Ask yourself a few questions. Are you over 18 years’ of age? Would you care what happens to you if you became incapacitated? Would you rather have a court make those decisions for you? Do you have children? Are you concerned about who raises your children (See Six Tips in Naming Your Guardians.)? Do you have a spouse, loved one or significant other? While these are just a few, if you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you need an estate plan.

What is an Estate Plan?

Your estate is comprised of the assets you own—your car, home, bank accounts, business interests, life insurance, investments, furniture and personal belongings, etc. No matter how large or how small your estate, you can’t take it with you when you die. So, you decide how your assets should be transferred by setting up your estate plan.

At risk for oversimplification, you plan your estate by providing instructions stating who you want to receive your assets, how the assets should be received, when they should receive them, and what person should distribute them. If you have young children, you will need to name a guardian to raise them in your place and to manage their inheritance. You will need to provide instructions for your care (and asset management) if you became incapacitated, even for a short time, due to illness or injury.

In addition, a properly prepared estate plan goes beyond asset planning and focuses on legacy planning, which includes transferring values, beliefs and wisdom to the next generation.

What Happens if I Fail to Plan?

Without the proper documents in place, your family will have to ask the court for permission to use your assets to take care of you and to oversee your care. That process is out of your control and it takes time and costs money, making an already difficult situation even more difficult for your family.

What You Need to Know

By all means, don’t try to do this yourself. You need the counseling and assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney who knows the laws in your state and has the expertise to guide you in making difficult decisions such as who will raise your children and who will look after your care at incapacity. As always, should you like to discuss setting up an estate plan, we would welcome the opportunity. Please visit www.ogdenlawmodesto.com for more information or call us at (209) 524-4466 to schedule a free consultation.