Do I need to have an estate plan?
Heather Kroencke: I get asked a lot whether or not it’s important for individuals to have an estate plan because there is this common belief that only the super wealthy need an estate plan and that’s not true.
Do I need to have an estate plan? The answer is yes.
It doesn’t matter if you have $500 or $500 million; it’s very important to put an estate plan in place because you’re essentially giving someone the authority to act on your behalf when you’re gone.
It’s also important if you have minor children because you are going to want them to have a guardian take care of them if you pass away step into your shoes. Obviously there is no way someone could ever step into your shoes as a parent but it’s better that you name someone that you have confidence in than having a court name one for you.
It’s also very important to sit down with an attorney and set up an estate plan or discuss your options because we all want to pay as little in estate taxes as possible. You also will want to look at whether or not your estate might have to go through probate and if it’s important to you to avoid probate; you want to work with an experienced attorney to structure your estate plan so that your family is not left having to go through probate before they can close your estate.
It’s also important to have everything in order financially and healthcare-wise if you were ever to become incapacitated. If you are in a car accident or if you are struck with a disease that left you unable to handle your affairs, you want to make sure that the person you trust is going to be the one in charge for all of that for you.