When people hear “Estate Planning”, they either fall asleep immediately or they say they don’t have an estate to plan.
Basically speaking, estate planning is just a process to help you manage and preserve your assets during your life and seeks to conserve and control the distribution at death, all according to what you want to happen.
The depth of the planning is based on your age, wealth, heirs, goals for your legacy, and many other variables. If you have a small estate a simple will might be all that is needed. Or if you are especially wealthy, you will need to employ some more advanced techniques to minimize the “theft” of your estate from taxes.
Adulting is hard: A friend was going under the knife recently. I asked her if she had her will, durable power of attorney, and advance medical directives updated. She had none of these. Anyone over the age of 18 should have all of these basic documents.
The young and unmarried readers may not need much in the way of planning, but if you have anything you don’t want left to your parents, consider writing out a will. At least then maybe your little cousin can get your Star Wars collection.
If the readers are unmarried couples, a will is essential. Should one of you pass, the law would mean the parents or closest living relative of the surviving partner would legally have rights to the deceased’s property. It could be a mess. Get a will.
For married couples is where it can become quite complicated. Are there assets? Is there a potential estate tax problem? Are there minor children? Second marriage? One spouse not a citizen? Is there enough insurance to cover debts? Will you leave a legacy? Do you have spendthrift heirs? All of these issues need to be addressed. For instance, if you fail to at least name a guardian for your minor children, the court may choose someone that you never would’ve chosen.
Consider sitting down with an attorney and making a plan.