“Why would I estate plan if I don’t have anything of value?” You may have heard this as a common reason people give in regard to why they do not have an estate plan in place. Unfortunately, it is a common misconception that estate planning is only for the wealthy. This is a dangerous misconception that misguides many who could really benefit from having a comprehensive estate plan in place. Yes, you absolutely should have an estate plan in place even if you do not consider yourself rich. Here is why.
I’m Not Rich. Do I Need an Estate Plan?
Pure and simple, estate planning is not just for the rich. Everyone, regardless of wealth or income level, should consider putting an estate plan in place. This is true for several important reasons.
The misconception that estate planning is only for wealthy individuals stems mostly from the misguided idea that estate planning is all about distributing valuable assets to the appropriate heirs after the person passes away. Estate planning, however, is about so much more than that. For instance, did you know that estate planning involves putting critical health care documents in place to protect your health care wishes in the event that you become incapacitated? A health care surrogate is a legal tool included in most estate plans that appoints a trusted individual as a surrogate to make health care decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated, which can happen to any of us regardless of wealth or health status. You can also put a living will in place which dictates your health care preferences for terminal, end of life care.
Another important part of estate planning that has nothing to do with wealth is the fact that you can designate a guardian for your children in your will. If you have minor children, estate planning is a must for this reason. You are empowered to select an individual you trust with your children to care for them in the event of your death. Without such a designation, the decision will be placed in the hands of the court system.
It is also important to consider the fact that estate planning can do more than just plan for assets of great monetary value. With estate planning, you can plan for those assets you treasure on a personal, sentimental level. Do you have a treasured family heirloom that might not be worth much in terms of money, but which you treasure and honor its history? If you do, you will likely want to help ensure that it goes to the right person after you pass away. You can do this in your estate plan.
Estate Planning Attorneys
Estate planning is too important to delay. Do not hesitate to talk to the dedicated estate planning team at OC Wills & Trusts. Contact us today.