3 Reasons You Need an Estate Plan Now (Even if You Are Not Wealthy)
Estate planning may seem to some like a lofty concept, and a need only reserved for the wealthy—people who actually have an “estate.” But estate planning really is so much more than deciding who will inherit the family farm or Grandma’s heirloom china. It is about protecting your family’s future.
Estate planning could include a last will and testament, testamentary trust or revocable inter vivos (living trust), living will, power of attorney, or a combination of these.
There are many reasons you should consider working with an attorney to develop an estate plan, even if you don’t think you have significant assets. Here are three:
- You Have Minor Children. If you have minor children, you absolutely need an estate plan. You must consider who will care for your children should you die before your children reach the age of majority. You also must ensure ample resources are available to provide financially for their care. If you and your spouse only have children together, you may feel confident your spouse will be able to provide for your children in the event of your death. However, you should consider what could happen if you and your spouse die simultaneously, perhaps in an accident. Who will care for your children? A close relative? A professional guardian? Who will serve as a trustee to oversee the financial reserves for your children’s care? Are the guardian and the trustee the same person? These and many other issues could arise should you die before your children become adults. An experienced attorney can walk you through your options to find the best solution for you and your family.
- You Have a Blended Family. Many of us have blended families. In these cases, it is critically important to consider the needs of your spouse, any children you have with your spouse, and any children you might have from a previous relationship. If you have not taken the time to create a will or a trust to address these issues, you are leaving the decision about how your estate will be divided among your heirs to the State of Pennsylvania—and, most likely, your heirs will be dissatisfied with the outcome. A little time spent today discussing your particular family situation and preparing for the worst-case scenario could alleviate problems for your loved ones in the future.
- You Have Concerns About What Will Happen if You Are Incapacitated. Typically, the younger we are, the less we tend to think about estate planning matters. Tragedy, however, can strike at any age. If you are severely injured or become critically ill to the point you become incapacitated and unable to make your own medical decisions, someone else will have to make those decisions for you. Now is the time to choose that person. A living will informs others of your decisions and preferences should you become incapacitated. A power of attorney appoints another person to take charge of your life (perhaps your person and/or your finances) if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. Regardless of your age, take the time to meet with an experienced attorney today and prepare your living will.