When it comes to the topic of estate planning, many people dismiss the idea without even having any information about it. The word “estate” often conjures up ideas of vast sums of wealth and assets, and people who do not have a high net worth think that estate planning is not for them.
This could not be further from the truth, however. Estate planning is for everyone because it gives the tools to ensure a smooth transition of assets and legal matters following death. It is never too early to begin thinking about estate planning, regardless of your income level.
Estate planning gives your family peace of mind
Estate planning is the process of managing and deciding on the distribution of your assets before you die. One of the primary ways that people do this is through a will. However, 55 percent of Americans do not have a will. Without this basic estate planning document, it can be difficult for your family to manage your financial and tax affairs after your death. Your family may have to deal with the probate process for estate administration, which can be costly and challenging.
If you take matters into your own hands with advance planning, you can help your family avoid any legal pitfalls that may await in the absence of a will. In addition, planning ahead allows you to learn about all of your options, such as trusts and powers of attorney.
Assets include more than just property
People often fail to consider the breadth and scope of the meaning of assets in terms of estate planning. Your estate is not only any property you own, but it also includes other assets such as retirement accounts and investments.
You can express end-of-life decisions
Even if you do not have assets, you may wish to express your advance directives for health care in the event you become incapacitated at any time. This is also a part of a comprehensive estate plan because it involves foreseeing decision-making on your behalf when you are unable to do so.