A common misconception is that Estate Planning is only for those with considerable assets that need to be protected. Estate planning is needed by everyone who is married with children, married without children, single with children, owns a business, owns a home, has a bank account, owns any items with financial or sentimental value, or any other property they wish to be transferred upon their passing.
I know what you're thinking - that sounds like everyone needs to do some form of estate planning, but what are the consequences of not doing it? What would you really lose if you decided not to sit down and evaluate your assets, who they should go to, how those people should receive those assets, your final wishes, and who is in charge of your healthcare if you are unable to make your own decisions?
The reality of this situation is that as long as you stay healthy and don't have any legal issues brought against you - you'll be fine without doing any planning. However, the unfortunate truth of life is we don't know when we'll really need the proper planning in place. We don't know when we'll get sick, we don't know when we could be involved in an accident, we don't know when someone may slip and fall in our house, we don't know when we'll need long term care, and finally we don't know when were going to pass away. These seemingly "common sense" uncertainties of life are the very reasons that require us to do planning before anyone of those things occur.
Estate planning in its most simplistic form is just making sure you're protected with a Living Will, Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, and a Healthcare Proxy. These documents are inexpensive and provide a great deal of peace of mind to you and your family.
With the proper planning done in advance you can rest assured that if a life event occurs your power of attorney, your healthcare proxy, or your business will be able to do what they need to for your best interest. If you pass away you're family will be protected, your assets will flow to the individuals that you intended, any estate taxes or inheritance taxes may be mitigated, reduced, or effectively taken care of through the use of insurance, trust planning, or asset protection strategies.
Estate planning is for everyone - it can be as painless or as complicated as you want it to be. It can be done as quickly as you'd like it be done, it all depends on your willingness and your overall sense of urgency.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!