The word “estate” describes all of a person’s property and assets. There is no minimum amount necessary for a person to have an estate. Any amount of personal and / or real property will qualify. This means that any person, no matter how little they might think they have, would benefit from an estate plan.
An estate plan determines how an estate will be administered and distributed on behalf of the estate owner. While an estate plan is usually associated with how a person’s estate will be divided upon their death, there are more uses for an estate plan that can be enjoyed by a person while they are still alive. For example, a person with property in one country and a job in another would benefit from assigning power of attorney to a third party so that the third party may sell the property on behalf of the absentee owner. The power of attorney would be a form of estate planning. Another example would be a person establishing a trust in their child’s name to be accessible by the child at a future date.
One must remember that a person’s body is part of their estate. The words “estate planning” also encompass living wills and medical powers of attorney that allow a person’s wishes to be known in the event they are incapable of communication.
An estate planning attorney can gather the necessary forms to plan one’s estate and can explain those forms when necessary. An experienced estate planning attorney can also advise their clients on what planning strategies would reap the most rewarding tax benefits for their client and their client’s family.
Anyone who thinks that they don’t need an estate plan should think of the how loved ones would be affected in the absence of a plan. An estate plan can allow a person to direct how their assets are distributed in their absence. Business employees can continue to get a paycheck if anything happens to their boss, kids in college can continue their studies if anything happens to their parents, spouses can care for themselves in the absence of their other half, etc. This type of planning is an excellent way to help ensure peace of mind in the event that the unforeseen happens.
Contact a local estate planning attorney for more specific direction and guidance. Every jurisdiction has different laws that may affect the distribution of a person’s estate, so it would be wise to contact an estate planning attorney with a strong knowledge of those laws. Planning an estate in an unlawful manner could complicate the distribution of the estate when distribution and fulfillment of wishes becomes necessary.
In the event that a person fails to have an estate plan in place when one becomes necessary could open the door for years of family feuding, thousands of dollars in court costs, and general tension among those who are all trying to stake their claim to a person’s estate. An estate planning attorney can explain how to ensure that an estate is divided amongst those who are meant to receive it, and not amongst those fueled by personal greed.