Take a look around your home; would you describe it as an “estate”? If not, you’re certainly not alone. The vast majority of persons in America today live a middle class lifestyle with a comfortable if not simple home and perhaps just enough money in the bank. However, estate planning is not just for those who have an actual “estate.” This simply refers to planning for the future, and specifically for after you’re gone.
Which, of course, is not something that most people want to think about, but a responsible adult knows the value of estate planning. Without proper planning and paperwork, your estate can wind up in probate court for months if not years, and your family may need to fight for what’s rightfully theirs.
Preparing a Will
Of course preparing a will is the cornerstone of good estate planning. You may not think you have enough possessions to make up a will but remember that it doesn’t need to be detailed, item by item. Most simply state their spouse gets control of the estate, or may direct that things be split equally between their children, and so on. Of course a will can be as detailed as you would prefer.
A will helps to keep your estate out of probate court any more than necessary. Without a will, your family may be forced to make several court appearances as someone else decides upon your possessions.
There are many other aspects of estate planning you should consider. For example, what about a living will? This gives direction as to your wishes if you should become incapacitated and need machines to keep you alive. Also, do you have adequate life insurance so that your family is provided for after you’re gone? What about your final resting place; have you made these wishes known and have put these things in writing?
Estate planning doesn’t need to be complicated; typically it can be handled with brief meetings with an attorney so that they can guide you through every necessary process. It may not be the most pleasant subject, planning for after you’re gone, but it is one of the most responsible things an adult can do. This article is not meant to replace the legal advice of a lawyer.