This is one of the most common objections I hear to starting an estate plan and, to be honest, one of my least favorite to address. Not because there aren’t several very good reasons to have an estate plan regardless of your asset level (which I’ll discuss) but because the question itself defines estate planning too narrowly. Many clients see “estate planning” as merely a method of getting their stuff into the hands of their family when they die. And this is true, it does accomplish this. But it also accomplishes much more.
Before we go into the “much more” take a minute to think about the assets you do have. Maybe you have a tie your father gave you when you graduated from college. Maybe your mother gave you a guitar that used to belong to her mother. Maybe there’s a bottle of sand you acquired from a family trip to the beach several years ago. These items might not fund your retirement or catch a hefty sum at auction but chances are you have several possessions that remind you of happy times in your life and are very important to you. And chances are, whether you know it or not, many of these items would have incredible value to members of your family as mementos of their time with you. This Wall Street Journal article tells of an auction among three siblings for items of their father’s estate and notes two brothers were each willing to spend their entire allotted point cache on a single item. What was it? Their father’s Army shirt. Always remember there’s a world of difference between expensive and valuable.
In addition, the documents created as part of an estate plan accomplish more than just distributing property. Here are just a few benefits, none of which are dependent on the wealth you’ve accumulated during your life:
- Documents such as your Advance Medical Directive, Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will don’t rely on wealth at all. These documents relay your wishes regarding medical care and appoint a representative to speak for you if you are unable. They safeguard your medical interests and preserve family harmony if concerns arise.
- Similarly, the General Power of Attorney keeps your financial life on track if you are ever incapacitated. It’s less about wealth accumulation or distribution, and more about convenience to you.
- Appointing an Executor through your will (more information on that role here) determines who oversees the process of distributing your assets. Nominating one through your will makes their job MUCH easier than requiring the court to appoint.
- Even if you don’t have many valuable assets now, that’s not to say you won’t at your death. Your estate could benefit from a wrongful death suit or other rights posthumously received. Creating an estate plan protects your family’s interests.
- Perhaps most importantly, your will nominates a guardian for your minor children. This is arguably the most important clause in any of your estate planning documents and is completely independent of wealth.
In addition to the documents providing benefits, the process itself is very advantageous. Among the benefits:
- Creating the documents encourages planning and conversation. It’s a great way to start some important conversations and begin planning for the future.
- An estate plan saves your loved ones the stress of searching for a non-existent will at the time of your death. It provides some comfort and stability for them in a time of grief.
- Distributing your estate will be one of the last memories your loved ones have involving you and probably your last communication to them. Would you rather your memories be tarnished by sending the message you didn’t take the time to draft a will? Or would you rather your legacy include the message that you took steps to alleviate their stress and provide for an effective administration of your estate.
To learn about more benefits to estate planning or to begin creating your own estate plan, call, email Asurest or fill out the form below to set up an appointment. Your friends and family will be glad you did.
This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Responses to inquiries, whether by email, telephone, or other means, do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create or imply the existence of an attorney-client relationship.
Disclaimer: This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Responses to inquiries, whether by email, telephone, or other means, do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create or imply the existence of an attorney-client relationship.