As I discuss estate planning with numerous individuals throughout the day, it never fails that at least one person comments, “Well, I don’t really need to do that…I’m still building my estate!” Somewhere along the line, the misconception that estate planning is only for those with vast wealth has become a commonly held belief. However, this could not be further from reality.
Of course, individuals with considerable wealth benefit greatly from estate planning. With a large estate, there is more to account for when planning for the future and additional tax consequences to consider. While estate planning for large estates may be more complex, it is not any more important than planning for those who are still growing their wealth.
Many of us, if we were to die today, would leave something of monetary value. It does not matter how much or how little is in our estate – the fact remains that we worked hard for what we have. It is important for you to ensure that your hard earned assets, whatever they may be, end up where you want them to. If a person dies without a will, their assets must be probated and are distributed according to Minnesota intestacy statutes. More often than not, the manner in which the intestacy statutes pass on a person’s estate is not in accordance with what they would choose themselves.
Estate planning also allows an individual to decide who will take care of his or her children if something happens to them. Without such instructions established in a legally binding document, the decision of who will be guardian of your children is left up to the court. Not only can these proceedings be complicated, emotional and costly, but there is no guarantee a judge will decide the person whom you had wanted to care for children is the one who should do so. It is not uncommon for family members to step forward to take guardianship of children where they are motivated by the wrong reasons – such as financial benefit of taking the children.
Estate planning further includes a power of attorney and health care directive. These documents are essential to have should you not be able to make certain decisions for yourself. A power of attorney allows an agent, whom you name, to make financial decisions and transactions in the event you are incapacitated. A health care directive not only names an agent to make health care decisions for you, but it also allows you to state your wishes regarding your health care so it is known by that individual making decisions and by your health care provider. Importantly, health care directives also include a HIPAA waiver which allows your health care agent to have access to necessary medical documents should they need them to assist in making a medical decision for you.
Schromen Law, LLC has assisted clients from vastly different backgrounds in preparing their estate plans. I believe that the value of an estate plan does not come from size of the estate concerned, but rather from the protection and peace of mind it provides. Just as estates vary in shape and size, it is important to get an estate plan that matches your specific needs and goals for your growing estate.
The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Schromen Law, LLC and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.