The estate plan you prepare will be unique. If you are giving thought to the process, you may only want a will at this time. On the other hand, you may be ready for a living trust or some other estate planning tool.
Estate planning can be as basic as you wish or as comprehensive as your circumstances require. Your goal is a plan that covers all the bases in your life and leaves you feeling you just hit a home run.
Foiling possible tragedy
A will protects your minor children in the event of your death. Obviously, you do not expect to die, but accidents happen. In your will, you can name a guardian for your children, but if you pass away intestate, the state will make that decision and it may not be a decision you would have approved. On the other hand, you may be unmarried and childless but committed to a life partner. If you die without a will, the state will likely divide your assets among your close relatives, but exclude your partner from any such distribution. A will can change that legally.
Going for more
Depending on your age, family considerations and quantity of assets, you may want to think about setting up a trust. Assets in a living trust, for example, do not have to go through the probate process and you can designate someone to manage your affairs if you should ever become incapacitated. Perhaps you would prefer establishing powers of attorney, one for your financial affairs and one for medical decisions. The point is, there are many parts to an estate plan and one or more will likely be just right for your circumstances.
You may be a 30-something bachelor with a condo you have recently purchased, a vintage Mustang, a bulldog and a great wine collection. You may be a newly married woman who owns and manages a small business, or a wealthy, divorced, corporate executive with three children. No matter where you are in life, and no matter how basic or complex your assets, establishing an estate plan should be on your to-do list so you can cover all the bases for yourself and your heirs both now and in the future.