For us mere mortals, thinking of our savings and investment holdings as an “estate” might feel like a leap. After all, the term evokes images of far-flung vacation homes, head-turning cars, and eight-digit bank accounts. Few boast such luxury and yet, no matter how modest, your life’s work is worthy of appreciation. In practical terms, this means taking responsible steps to ensure it is well-managed—even after your passing. A well-designed estate plan is the best way to do this.
Oh, but you say you’ve got a will and that should be more than enough, right? Wrong. A will won’t protect you from probate court which, in itself, is sufficient reason to engage an estate planning attorney. Laws concerning estate management vary from state to state and are challenging to navigate. Without professional intervention, your heirs could well find themselves mired in legalese or worse, in court, as they try to fulfill your last wishes. Nobody wants this for their family.
Another reason worth consideration, regardless of your estate’s size, is a plan’s ability to provide you with control of your assets…even from beyond the grave. Though this may seem melancholy, it is often a responsible consideration An estate plan will allow you to determine how, when, and under what conditions your assets are dispersed. This brings peace of mind if, for instance, you have a loved one with a history of irresponsible spending or—tragically—substance abuse issues. Not only will a plan ensure that your hard-earned savings be spent responsibly, it will also facilitate the loving gesture of ensuring that those near and dear don’t inadvertently do damage to themselves or others by spending irresponsibly.
Lastly, an estate plan protects your legacy. No matter the monetary value, those gifts you leave behind represent years of sacrifice and saving. Do yourself the dignity of protecting what you’ve spent a lifetime building. Just as the rich and famous are no better than Joe and Jane, nor is their estate more worthy of care simply for its size.
Here in the U.S. we live in a world of pop culture icons and larger-than-life personalities. Though the ever-present image of billboard celebrities and Hollywood narratives drives greatness, it also constructs unrealistic expectations of value. Just because few of us count our savings in the millions, doesn’t mean they are any less worth protecting. An estate plan is, beyond a doubt, the best way to protect your assets and your legacy.