“Estate planning” sounds like something for the wealthy- something not worth doing if you rent an apartment, owe money on your car, or don't have much in retirement savings. Many people who own their own home count it as their biggest asset.
But estate planning isn’t just about money. It’s about control. Who will make your medical decisions if you’re incapacitated? Who will pay your bills and manage your money? Who will raise your children and manage their money if you die?
Estate planning applies to everybody, not just the wealthy. It is not just a process that directs the distribution of your assets to your loved ones; it’s a way of protecting yourself while you were still alive.
Think of it this way:
You probably know who you’d want to make your decisions and manage your assets- no matter how much money you have. But have you taken steps to make that happen?
If you do not have a will, power of attorney, or other estate planning documents, your loved ones will not have the legal authority to carry out your wishes- even if they know what you would want.
Getting a basic estate plan is like having an insurance policy. You don’t want to have to use it, but if you are incapacitated or pass away unexpectedly, your loved ones will know what you want and will have the legal power to carry out your wishes. Whether you have an apartment and a life insurance policy through work or a paid-for home and a sizable portfolio, estate planning is a way to ensure that you’re taken care of even when you can’t take care of yourself.