It is a common sentiment for people to assume because they “don’t own much” there is no need for them to have an estate plan in place. But whether or not you have “significant” assets, you likely have a bank account, a vehicle, credit cards, and so forth. To be able to access these assets, your family will need an estate trustee. If you die without a Will, your family will need to go through a court process to appoint an estate trustee. Creating a plan for your estate now can help your family avoid the uncertainty and legal fees associated with the court process. Regardless of one’s age, there are numerous concerns that an estate plan can address:
Ø Who will pay fees associated with my estate? An estate plan can save you and your estate money on legal fees, court costs, and taxes. These savings can be of the utmost importance to a small estate (like the one you may have now). An effective and legally valid estate plan can maximize the amount of money passed onto your loved ones.
Ø Who will make my medical and financial decisions if I can’t? Incapacity and an inability to make one’s own medical and financial decisions can occur at anytime. Estate planning can provide more than just a direction of your wishes after death; it can provide direction as to whom should make decisions regarding your healthcare and financial commitments should you be unable to make them yourself.
Ø Who will receive my assets, savings and investments? By failing to put an estate plan in place, you are leaving it up to the courts and statutory provisions to determine who receives your assets. Most people prefer to choose who will receive their assets when they die.
Ø Who will take care of my children and/or pets? Naming a guardian is essential for anyone with minor children. Naming a guardian informs the courts who you would want to care for your child(ren) if something should happen to you and/or your spouse. An estate plan can direct your estate trustee to use funds from the estate for the care of your child(ren) and even the temporary care of your pet.
Ø What will happen to items that are of sentimental value to me? After your death, loved ones may fight over items that were of sentimental value to you, even if they have little monetary worth. With an estate plan, you can control who receives these items.
For young adults, having a plan in place for their estate may not be a priority, however there are many benefits to creating a plan. If one is weighing the benefits of having an estate plan in place, it may be time to sit down with a lawyer and draft a plan, making sure to review it after any substantial life changes, such as getting married or having a child.