Is Estate Planning Only for the Rich

Is Estate Planning Only for the Rich

It’s tempting to think that estate planning is only for the rich, since rich people may have multiple real estate properties to distribute – and massive sums of money in the bank. But the reality is that everyone can benefit from estate planning.

Why is this the case and how can you get started?

The Basics of Estate Planning

Estate planning is the term for making arrangements for your possessions, and sometimes your family members, after you’re gone. It involves creating a last will and testament to express your wishes, but also constructs like trusts to protect some of your assets.

It’s technically possible to practice some aspects of estate planning on your own, but it’s much easier and more reliable to get the help of an estate planning lawyer. Your lawyer will be intimately familiar with state laws in your area, and they can guide you on all the proper documents to fill out as well as the most effective strategies to fit your particular needs. They can help answer all your questions, provide you with professional legal advice, and even execute steps of the estate planning process on your behalf, all in exchange for relatively low fees.

It’s easy to see why estate planning is beneficial for wealthy individuals. If you have millions of dollars, multiple properties, multiple businesses, and several kids and grandkids on top of that, you’ll need to work diligently to make sure your assets are protected and divided according to your wishes after your demise. You’ll also have more than enough money to pay for legal counsel.

But what if you’re not wealthy?

Why Estate Planning Is for (Mostly) Everyone

It’s true that estate planning isn’t literally for everyone. There are some people who have no assets whatsoever and no children or family members to consider. But if you have any assets to divide, or if you have any family members to protect, estate planning is for you.

Estate planning helps you in several different ways:

·Taking proper inventory. The first phase of the estate planning process revolves around taking proper inventory. In other words, it means exploring all your current wealth and possessions to evaluate what needs to be planned and accounted for.

·Ensuring desired distribution. Maybe you want a certain property or business to be left to one of your kids, in particular. Maybe you want all your assets to be divided equally. Whatever you desire, estate planning is a way to make sure that it happens.

·Minimizing taxes. Taxes on inheritances can be both hefty and complicated. If you’re not careful, your kids and other inheritors could be forced to pay significant taxes on everything you leave them, ultimately withering your estate. An estate planning lawyer can help you understand tax laws and create structures that mitigate, if not eliminate taxes.

·Protecting young children. Estate planning is also a viable way to protect young children. You can express your wishes for what happens to them, dictating who should assume guardianship and clarifying other details.

·Guiding end of life. Estate planning isn’t purely about possessions; it’s also about planning your own end of life and accounting for complicated variables, like what happens if you’re no longer able to take care of yourself.

·Preventing family drama. People also pursue estate planning to prevent, or at least minimize family drama. After a wealthy family member passes, it’s common for spouses, children, and even extended family members to bicker over what’s been left to them and how it’s been divided. If everything is settled in advance, there’s much less room for controversy.

· Acquiring peace of mind. This is also a way to give yourself peace of mind, beyond all the other benefits. You can rest easy knowing that you’ve done everything you can to protect your family members and ensure the integrity of your estate.

Getting Started With Estate Planning

So how do you get started with estate planning?

·Take action now. It’s tempting to indefinitely delay estate planning; after all, you probably plan on living for several more years, at the very least. But none of us know when our time is up, so it’s important to take action as soon as possible. If you’re thinking about estate planning right now, you should begin the process right now; it doesn’t take much time or effort to schedule a phone call.

· Consider your wishes. Think carefully about your wishes. What are the most important assets to consider? What do you want to happen to your children? Your lawyer can help you explore the options available, but it’s helpful to come into the meeting with a few ideas of your own.

· Talk to a lawyer. When you’re ready to move forward, find an estate lawyer in your area and have an initial consultation with them. They can help you understand the details of the estate planning process, provide you with guidance and advice, and eventually help you draft and file all the necessary paperwork to ensure your wishes are carried out according to your desires.

There are some people for whom estate planning is not a good fit, but realistically, they’re in the minority. The truth is, estate planning is beneficial for anyone with assets and/or kids who wants to make sure their estate is handled responsibly at the end of their life.

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