Ask The Expert: Do I need an estate plan if I don’t have a lot of assets?

posted by: Alexis Martin Neely Personal Family Lawyer

While the term “estate plan” seems to indicate planning is only necessary for people who have a lot of assets, that’s not the case. An estate plan is a set of instructions that lets your family know how to make decisions for you and everything you own in the event that you are incapacitated or at the time of your death. Regardless of the size of your assets, your family needs to know how you want things handled. And, depending on the size of your assets, your family could be stuck dealing with an expensive, public, drawn out court process or even paying estate taxes if you don’t set up your plan properly.

Every adult person needs to at least have in place an up to date Health Care Directive, also known as a Living Will, and a Durable Power of Attorney for financial and legal purposes. These two documents give authority and direction to someone you trust to make financial, legal, and health care decisions for you if you can’t make them for yourself. If you also have financial assets, you will also want to have in place a Will, which would direct who should take care of things after you pass on as well as who should receive your assets. And, if you want to spare your loved ones from having to deal with the Court process called probate, you will also want to have your assets owned by a Living Trust.

Last, but far from least, you will want to also think about passing on not just your financial assets, but your whole Family Wealth, which also includes your intellectual, spiritual and human assets. These assets are most often lost when someone dies because they are intangible and hard to capture. When you are working with a lawyer on your estate plan, be sure to ask if they have a process in place for capturing these intangible assets. The very best gift you can give your loved ones is to meet with a family lawyer who will help you to make the right decisions about these matters during your lifetime and then be there to guide your loved ones after you are gone. You may create some basic legal documents to get started with online templates:

Back to Estate Planning Expert


Posted by:Safeer

3/31/2013 1:56:11 AM

kristinOctober 18, 2011I was also unblae to call in, but this topic is very relevant to me: I am scared to death that this is IT. That the caregiving will go on so long that I will die in my traces here. Although I am resolved to be a good caretaker, to live in this moment of caregiving, and to make it count as a valuable way to spend my life, I am at an age that I also have other things I want to accomplish. I have always looked forward to a time when I have no other responsibilities in order to devote myself to Good Works (without the responsibility of all the paperwork required of my previous career, social work). I have skills other than changing pull-ups and colostomy bags. I would like to have the time to use them.

Leave a Comment

Enter the word shown above in the textfield to the left.
  Yes, I would like to receive caregiving updates from