The word “estate” sounds much more aristocratic than it is. If you’re envisioning mansions and Rolls Royces and retirement accounts filled with millions of dollars, well, yes…that is an estate. However, so is your home, your car, the money in your bank account, or even your collection of 1st edition comic books, your dog, or the china set that was passed down from your great, great grandparents.
Yes, all of those things we just mentioned are part of your “estate.”
The bottom line is this: chances are pretty high that you own something. Maybe it’s wildly valuable. Or maybe it’s worth is more meager. The question is this: do you want to protect it?
Estate plans aren’t reserved for the rich and famous. Anyone can benefit from having an estate plan in place. Not only does an estate plan provide peace of mind, but it also simplifies the lives of those you love in the off-chance that you become incapacitated…or worse.
Here are 3 simple questions to ask yourself to help determine if really actually need an estate plan:
1. Do I want the state to distribute my belongings based on their guidelines? Unless you have a will in place, state law will dictate how your estate gets distributed in the case of untimely death. Every state has its own process, but here in Missouri, your closest living relatives will receive an equal share of your assets. Spouse and children first, then parents and siblings…and then down the list from there. When the state distributes your assets per law, it’s pretty likely that it will cause a major family feud. The simple act of drafting a will ensures that your assets will be distributed per your orders—not the state’s. Plus, you’ll be saving your family members from unnecessary feuding during a time of mourning.
2. Will the court appoint a guardian who is highly qualified to take care of my children? Think a judge who doesn’t know you will know what’s best for your children? Don’t assume your spouse will be around to assume full guardianship. Having a bulletproof plan for who will become the guardian of your children if worse comes to worst is the best way to ensure their protection.
3. Who would make medical or legal decisions for me if I was unable to do so myself? Was if you didn’t die, but ended up in a position where you were unable to make informed decisions—or were not conscious to do so. Who would be left with the responsibility of making medical and/or financial decisions for you? Who will decide whether you go in for that risky surgery? Would you even want to go in for that risky surgery? A living will or health care directive helps outline both who should be responsible for making important decisions for you, but also how you would like those decisions to be made. In addition to a living will or health care directive, a power of attorney can assign someone you know and trust with the responsibility of making financial and legal decisions for you in the case of incapacitation, saving your friends and loved ones from the uncomfortable task of making those decisions uninformed.
It all comes down to this: everyone—no matter your age, no matter your financial status, and no matter your relationship status—needs an estate plan. It’s an easy way to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the assets you’ve worked a lifetime to accrue.
Of course, knowing you need an estate plan and taking the first step towards drafting one are two very different things. Let us make this overwhelming task a little easier for you to palate. Join our upcoming FREE workshop, ‘Estate Planning 101’ on Thursday, May 28 at 2pm CT. We’ll discuss:
✅ What happens when you do nothing and decide to forego planning your estate
✅ Which different estate planning documents to consider if you decide to move forward with estate planning
✅ How to actually get started!
Workshop attendees will become qualified for a free consultation at the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dunn—a valuable offer! Register for our upcoming workshop and take the first step towards protecting your wealth!