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Do I Have an Estate to Plan at All?

Ask most people about their estate, and chances are their response will fall somewhere between “Do I have an estate?” and “Who do you think I am?” After all, the word “estate” conjures images of wrought iron gates, statue-lined driveways, and palace-sized homes when—in reality—it simply refers to all the “stuff” a person owns. Without legalese, your estate is nothing more and nothing less than your worldly possessions. So, naturally, everyone has an estate.

Stripping the polish from “estate” and exposing it as just a fancy word for “your things” is crucial, as all too often folks ignore the need for estate planning because they think the process is complex, and only needed by the rich and famous. Nothing could be further from the truth! An estate plan doesn’t just protect your belongings, but it also protects you and your loved ones…and this is true no matter how much (or how little) you own.

Do I Have an Estate? Yes! And Here’s Why (and How) You Need to Protect It

If you’re an adult, you have an estate: that much is now clear. And, if you have an estate, you need to protect it. Here’s why (and how):

  • Family and Loved Ones

Even if all you own is a car and a checking account, someone will have to administer or otherwise distribute these assets when you die. This person will be someone who loves you, and as they navigate through their grief, the last thing they need to deal with is a legal headache. If you don’t have a Last Will with YOUR desires and rules detailed, a legal headache is, unfortunately, what they will get.

Dying intestate (with no Last Will) means your estate will be processed according to state intestacy laws and NOT by your desires and rules.  This is a trying and impersonal process that often drives families to conflict. The law doesn’t care about your last wishes; your nearest and dearest, however, do. This combination thrusts strife upon your loved ones at a time when all they need is healing.

  • Family and Loved Ones

No, that’s not a typo. It’s just that an estate plan does more to protect your loved ones than can be covered in a single bullet point.

Beyond relieving your family of legal anxieties at the height of their grief, an estate plan allows you to work—in consultation with an estate planning attorney—to plan for your family’s continued financial security. In addition, an estate plan provides tools that protect you personally and those you love should you suffer incapacitating injury. This means that even if you have no nearest and dearest, estate planning is still an essential task.

Executing an Estate Plan

A basic estate plan consists of a Last Will, Durable Financial Power of Attorney, a Medical Power of Attorney, a Directive, and, in some cases, a Trust. A Last Will provides a space where you explain how you wish your assets to be distributed (among many other things). The Financial Power of Attorney and the Medical Power of Attorney are documents wherein you to designate trusted loved ones to care for your finances and medical needs should you suffer incapacitation. A Directive expresses your wishes as to whether you want extraordinary means to keep you alive when you are in a hospital with either a terminal or irreversible condition.  A Trust is a versatile tool that allows you to control your assets in innovative ways while you are still living, and after you die.

An experienced estate planning attorney is your best resource for a full explanation of all that goes into an estate plan, and everything that having one can do for you and your loved ones.

To learn more about beginning and maintaining your plan, or to address anything else related to the matter, do not hesitate to reach out to The Law Firm of Blanche D. Smith either by calling (936) 301-0111 or using the contact form below.

Monique Hineline

Smith & Smith are very professional, informative, and relatable with examples and stories to ease the estate planning process. I had the best time at their lunch and learn. Even if you already have your estate planning in place I highly recommend attending a lunch and learn. Thanks Smith & Smith!