The biggest excuse we hear from people as to why they don’t have an estate plan is “I don’t have anything, so I don’t need one” or “maybe when I accumulate more wealth, I’ll think about getting one.” This is a mistake. Estate planning is not just for people that have accumulated assets or wealth. Yes, it is true that the planning for those with more assets may be more advanced, but this does mean that those without significant assets don’t need an estate plan in place. Everyone needs an estate plan. Here are the top 5 reasons you still need an estate plan even if you don’t have a lot of assets:
Incapacity. What if you become incapacitated while you are still alive? This is something that we don’t like to think about, but it happens quite often. An estate plan is not just about executing a will or trust, it also includes executing incapacity planning documents such as powers of attorney. Anyone over age 18 needs a power of attorney to nominate a person to make both financial and medical decisions for them if they become incapacitated. What happens if you are over age 18, become incapacitated and don’t have a power of attorney in place? Your loved ones will be forced to petition the court for a guardianship or conservatorship to make these decisions for you.
Children. Who is going to be the guardian of your children if you pass away while they are minors? If both parents pass away, the court will determine who the guardian is if you do not have a guardian named in a Will.
Tangible Personal Property. We all have “stuff” (jewelry, clothes, furniture, etc.). Even if the fair market value of that stuff is not expensive, it’s likely valuable to you. By having an estate plan, you choose, in a legally binding document, exactly who you want to receive all of your “stuff.”
Digital Assets. Most people have some sort of online account. Be it social media, like Facebook® bill pay or picture storage. If you pass away, your loved ones cannot access your digital assets unless you’ve designated a person whom you’ve authorized to do so.
Life is Uncertain. Not to be completely morbid, but we don’t know when or how we will die. Waiting until you get “older” when you are supposedly close to death or waiting until when you have accumulated that magic number of assets that you feel is big enough to execute an estate plan is not a good plan. This thought process does not combat life’s unpredictability.
We specialize in estate planning, incapacity planning, probate and business law for people with and without significant assets. Contact Hamilton Law, PLC at (269) 488-8394 or [email protected] to set up a free estate planning or business law consultation today.
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