As an attorney, I think a lot of people think that their
assets aren't big enough and their life isn't interesting enough to warrant an
estate plan. To the first issue: you would be surprised. You don't have to be
"wealthy" to make an estate plan a smart move for you. As I have
mentioned before for instance, having a small business (or any business) would
make estate planning a must for you. You don't have to be wealthy to have a
small business. Most people who have kids, a decent job, some savings, some
retirement savings, a house, a spouse, a car or two, even someone with a
special collection of collectibles—anyone with any one or any combination of
these is a great candidate for an estate plan.
Estate planning involves planning for incapacity and death: The
most common Estate Planning documents seem to be (1) the will (2) the durable
power of attorney and (3) the health care directive. There are otherless
common documentsor "instruments", but the vast majority of
people should consider the above.
Most people need a will. It is a good idea for just about
everyone to have a will or at least to look into the idea and have a discussion
with an attorney to explore your present situation.
One reason to update a will may be that the guardian you
initially chose is no longer appropriate, able, or willing. One obvious problem
would be that a guardian is deceased now, where as he/she/they were not when
the will was written. In this situation, you may have designated an alternate
guardian, which is recommended. However this is not always the case. Sometimes
there are situations that you cannot solve by writing into a will an alternate
For instance, perhaps your parents that you originally
designated have become much older since the last time you wrote a will and so
have your children.
There are more important considerations at play than just splitting
up possessions when you write a will. Yes, splitting up possessions and assets
can also be important. It can be important to allocate assets to adisabled
family memberfor instance, or simply to pass on something that has
sentimental value by making aspecific bequest.
When a child is involved however, the most important facet
of a will is guardianship. What will happen to your child if something happens
to you? Who do you want to take care of your child if you cannot?