ESTATE PLANNING IS NOT JUST FOR WEALTHY PEOPLE
You should consider estate planning if you have:
- Children under the age of 18 or special needs children of any age
- Assets worth more than $150,000
- A desire to minimize estate taxes
- Concerns about what will happen if you become incapacitated
- Preferences for your later-life care
- A blended family
- Preferences about the distribution of your possessions after you pass away
- A wish to maintain privacy over your financial affairs
A WILL IS NOT ENOUGH
A will is just one aspect of a complete estate plan; it does not avoid probate or begin to "cover all your bases." In addition to a will, most estate plans should also include a Revocable Living Trust so your heirs can avoid probate, an Advance Health Care Directive specifying the medical care and intervention you do or do not want, and a Durable Power of Attorney appointing someone to handle your affairs if you become incapacitated.
YOU REALLY WANT TO AVOID PROBATE
Probate is a legal process for distributing the property of a deceased person. Probate takes from 9 months to around 2 years, ties up your assets during this time, and cost thousands of dollars. Probate is an expensive, time-consuming hassle that can be avoided with proper estate planning.
DO-IT-YOURSELF DOCUMENTS ARE OFTEN INCORRECT
No book, software program, or website can possibly account for each person's unique situation and needs, keep up with the laws in each jurisdiction, and create a fully personalized plan. It's no wonder that do-it-yourself legal documents often fail to accomplish the writer's goals.