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Estate PlanningToo many Americans think that estate planning is only for those who are very wealthy-the 1%’ers.  In truth, this is incredibly wrong, as any adult has the need for an estate plan and can benefit from a plan.  Unfortunately, too many Americans have not created an estate plan and are not organized with their legal documents.

According to a 2016 Gallup News Poll more than half of all Americans do not have a will, let alone a comprehensive estate plan.  Gallup also found that less Americans had a will than in the last 27 years of polls.  Somehow, less people are recognizing the need for an estate plan than ever.

The sooner you create an estate plan and protect your family, the better.  The following are four reasons why everyone needs an estate plan, no matter what situation they are in.:

1. Forward Thinking Family Goals: 

What are your goals?  Do you want to decide who takes care of any minor children, or how do you want your assets distributed to your loved ones after you pass?  Do you want to help pay for a college education, buy a house, or start a business?  Essentially, what kind of decisions do you want your children to make in the future if you are not there to provide guidance and wisdom?  Spend some time thinking about what your family’s wants, needs, and goals are, and your estate plan can express them.

2. Financial Confidence Now and After You Are Gone:

Creating an estate plan can help you get more organized and increase your control over your finances.  Now that you know what you own and what you want to have happen to it, it can give you direction and a vision for how you want to use your finances now.  As mentioned above, an estate plan can also help your loved ones make good financial decisions because you proactively provided them with a structure to inform their decisions.

3. Identify Risks:

A comprehensive estate plan is part of your risk-mitigation plan.  If something were to happen to you, whether death or incapacity, an estate plan can help protect your assets by allowing you to choose beforehand who will manage your assets, how your assets will be used, what kind of medical decisions can be made, etc.

4. To Maintain Your Privacy:

A trust-based plan protects your privacy after something happens to you.  Information today is increasingly commoditized, and you may not like the idea that a stranger can gather information on your assets in certain circumstances and if you do not have a trust.  A trust is a private document and therefore protects your privacy from prying eyes.

The Bottom Line: Seek Professional Estate Planning Advice

These are four benefits that anyone can receive through an estate plan, but you may recognize by now that there are numerous consideration to take into account.  It is essential for your estate plan to be legally accurate to be as effective as you want and need.  Working with an estate planning attorney is the best way to make a legally and personally effective estate plan.