Do Most People Know What the Words “Estate Planning” Mean?

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Many wrongly assume that to need estate planning you must own massive homes, bank accounts across the world and have millions of assets. As Laura French, The Mom Lawyer and Founder of French Law Group in Watkinsville, Georgia says that, “This could not be further from the truth. In fact, for those of modest or moderate means, estate planning may be more urgent than for the super rich.”  

Regardless of your life circumstance, rich or poor; young or old; married or single, every capable adult needs an estate plan. Laura affirms: “Estate planning is for everyone. It is the process by which we put together a client’s wishes and goals, loved ones, and assets into a legally recognized set of documents. Estate planning is all about who you are, who you love, what you have, and how we fit those puzzle pieces together.”

Some people do not know what “estate planning” means but as Andrew Roderick, CEO of Credit Repair Companies observes they “will often know what you mean if you mention writing a will.” That is a great place to start as many often fail to realize that estate planning encompasses much more than simply writing a Will. It includes appointing a health care agent and power of attorney; a pet power of attorney if you own a pet and possibly creating a Trust if your needs and circumstances require it. Estate planning is about protecting what is most important to you. Especially if you are the parent of minor children.   David Reischer, Esq., Estate Planning Attorney and CEO of LegalAdvice.com, notes, “I understand that some people do not have a lot of assets but important matters like deciding who should care for your children in the event of an untimely death need careful consideration even if an estate does not have a lot of assets.”

Kate Cassidy, JD, who handles estate planning issues for Barnum Financial notes that estate planning encompasses more than just the traditional legal documents like a Will. Setting up beneficiary designations is key to successful planning as well. A common example of a beneficiary designation would be listing your spouse or children as beneficiaries on a life insurance policy. Insurance policies, like estate planning is a way to protect your loved ones.

Kate says, “Maybe the smartest thing you can do right now to make sure that your beneficiary designations are in order. That’s part of your estate plan just like your will is, and it’s something you can update without a trip to your attorney’s office. It just takes some fairly basic paperwork, which your bank, financial advisor, or insurance representative should be able to provide. If you have beneficiaries who are minors, and you don’t already have your estate plan set up to include trusts for them, you can always consider naming a custodian to hold funds on their behalf until they’re twenty-one. You can often do that right on the beneficiary form. This helps make sure the funds are available for the beneficiary’s needs without the need for a lot of court oversight.”  

Estate planning is truly for everyone regardless of the size of your estate. There are many documents that are crucial to have in place as early as the age of 18 and can be very relevant to choices that need to be made while one is still alive. Estate planning means saving your family from legal fees and court costs, and family disagreements. By making choices now while you are happy and healthy, you are giving your family the protection they need and deserve.

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