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Is estate planning still beneficial for those of modest means?

Is estate planning still beneficial for those of modest means?

It is a common misconception not just in Torrance but around the country that estate planning is something only the wealthy need to think about. It appears that this misconception largely came about because of the manner in which estate planning can take into account the tax ramifications on estates of a substantial value following an individual's passing.

It is true that an attorney can be of great assistance for an individual looking to navigate the complex details of estate tax planning. However, estate planning consists of far more than simply looking to minimize estate tax liability.

As we discussed in our post last week, comprehensive estate planning can also set in place official documents outlining for family and medical professionals what sort of medical care an individual would like to receive in the event they become incapacitated. Similarly, establishing a durable power of attorney for finances can appoint an agent to make financial decisions if an individual becomes incapacitate.

Comprehensive estate planning for an individual of substantial or modest means can also consist of a will to ensure that the individual's assets are distributed according to their wishes, rather than the guidelines of the state.

Further, in times of grief following the passing of a loved one, discord and turmoil can ensue, resulting in anger and animosity amongst an individual's family members. Estate planning can communicate an individual's wishes to their family, and ensure that those intentions are honored after their passing. Accordingly, estate planning can ensure that an individual's family is spared unnecessary stress, animosity and expense following the individual's passing.

Estate planning could be less complicated for an individual that has a more modest amount of assets, but by no means is it any less critical for their wellbeing and the continued wellbeing of the individual's family.

Source: Observer and Eccentric, "Estate planning not only for the wealthy," Rick Bloom, March 7, 2013