Wealth is not a prerequisite for estate planning.
Newspaper headlines remind us the rich and famous need estate planning.
After all, prince or pauper, no one gets out of this life alive.
In fact, Prince is one example of this fact.
Although he was a successful musician and his image was important to him, Prince did not consider how his lack of planning could lead to estate settlement issues.
As a result, many people came out to stake a claim on his sizeable wealth.
According to a recent The Tribune-Democrat article titled “You Don’t Need a Prince-ly Fortune to Need a Will,” dying intestate led to a long and expensive settlement.
Unfortunately, more than half of Americans mistakenly believe they do not require an estate plan.
Although you may not have the vast wealth of Prince, you still require an estate plan.
Like Prince, you cannot predict when you will die or even if you will become incapacitated.
When prediction is impossible, preparation is essential.
Although it may seem like you can afford to procrastinate, you cannot.
Dying without a plan in place will leave your loved ones guessing your wishes if you become incapacitated and at the mercy of the courts for authority to act as a conservator or executor.
Are you married?
Do you have children?
Do you own any read estate?
Do you own, well, anything that is important to you?
If yes, you will require at minimum a last will and testament created by an experienced estate planning attorney.
Although you may not be rich by popular standards, you will compromise any accumulated wealth by failing to record your wishes in your estate plan.
Through an estate plan, you can support and provide for your loved ones and charities when you are gone.
It can also help you distribute your wealth in the most tax-efficient manner.
If you have minor children, you will need to name a guardian in your last will.
Failing to do so means a local probate judge will select someone to rear your children.
The person the judge selects may not hold the same values as you and your spouse.
In the worst case scenario, your children could end up in the foster care system if no available family members exist, come forward, or qualify.
The heirs of your wealth and the guardians of your minor children will be chosen by the probate judge if you die intestate.
Few people desire to leave such important decisions up to a stranger who does not know them or their families.
For these reasons, you should prioritize protecting your wealth and your loved ones through estate planning.
Reference: The (Johnstown, PA) Tribune-Democrat (April 17, 2021) “You Don’t Need a Prince-ly Fortune to Need a Will”