A common planning misconception is that only those with vast assets need an estate plan. But, it is important to emphasize that estate planning is not just for the wealthy. For many, the word “estate” conjures up a Downton Abbey-like property and an overwhelming amount of zeros on your bank account balance, but estate planning is a must, regardless of your tax bracket.
An estate plan concerns more than money; it provides important directives for loved ones, without which they will be forced to make difficult decisions on your behalf, often causing internal strife and struggle within families.
While a larger estate may garner more complex trusts and further considerations of how to allocate assets, an estate plan of any size should be thoughtfully considered. After all, you want to provide for your loved ones as best as you can. Smaller estates, especially, will benefit from proper planning – ensuring that you get the most out of what you have to the benefit of your loved ones.
Estate plans of all sizes will want to include these five essential documents so that your intentions will be known, your wishes will be carried out, and your loved ones will be taken care of as best as possible.
Regardless of how large one’s estate may be, a medical directive is the same for everyone. Your chosen health care proxy should be someone with a clear head, who you trust to follow your instructions. Be sure to speak with this person about your wishes, as well as including the document in your estate plan. That way, they will know what is expected of them, and will feel more comfortable if ever in the position to make decisions for you.
And, once in place, be sure to periodically follow up on your estate plan. Even if you feel that your estate isn’t significant enough to need a second look, life changes often require changes to one’s estate plan as well. For example, beneficiaries may change with marriages, divorces, unfortunate passings, and new additions to the family.
Lastly, regardless of your income, your estate plan is an important way to pass on memories and words of love in the form of an ethical will or legacy letter. After all, a recent study has shown that memories and stories are a more valuable inheritance than any amount of money.
If you are thinking about estate planning, contact the compassionate and knowledgeable estate planning attorneys at Fields and Dennis, LLP. With extensive estate planning experience, from working with large estates to creating simple wills, Fields and Dennis can help you provide your loved ones with a secure future.