Many people who read about estate planning become convinced it’s a matter that only the rich need to think about. After all, estate tax considerations only kick in if your assets exceed the estate tax exclusion. For the rest of us, those middle-class people who can’t count themselves amongst the numbers of millionaires in the nation, is estate planning even necessary?
Yes. There are a number of legal choices that only an estate plan can answer, and only you get to make those decisions. Even middle-class Americans who do not believe themselves to be wealthy need an estate plan for a number of different reasons.
If you are a parent of a young child, your estate plan serves an incredibly important part of your child’s life. Namely, it allows you to choose who will become guardian of your child should both you and your spouse die at the same time. If you don’t create an estate plan and name a guardian it will be up to a court to choose the guardian for you.
Even if you don’t have children or are not married, creating an estate plan allows you to direct what kinds of medical care you do or do not want to receive should you become involved in an accident or other emergency that leaves you incapacitated. If you don’t have an estate plan, someone else will have to make medical decisions for you. If you’re not married this usually falls to your closest family members. If your family members can’t decide, it may also fall to a court to appoint somebody to make the decision.