J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Attorney and CPA

Estate planning can benefit everyone, not only the wealthy

There is a persistent estate planning myth that Florida residents may have heard. Some believe that estate planning is only necessary for the very wealthy -- that is, those with large amounts of assets. However, estate planning can serve many valuable purposes for almost any person, regardless of the amount of assets he or she may have.

People often make the mistake of thinking that because they possess very little, they do not need an estate plan. This thinking is false because everyone needs a will, regardless of how much they own.

Estates include everything from a home to a car to a bank account to social security benefits. Some of these less obvious assets -- like pension plans and 401ks -- can hold a lot of value. So even though someone may think that they do not own many assets, he or she may simply be unaware of what they own.

What's more, estate administration involves much more than just the will. Following a person's passing, there is more than just the distribution of a person's assets that needs sorting. If someone has children, then it is often necessary for that person to name a guardian for their children. Plus, there are health care directives to consider. People often have certain wishes for what kind of treatment they wish to receive should they become incapacitated to the point where they cannot make such decisions on their own. A living will can address these issues.

Plus, there is the matter of who will handle these affairs after a person passes. With an estate plan, a health care power of attorney can be named. Thus, someone will be put in charge of making medical decisions and communicating a person's wishes. In addition, a declaration of guardian can be signed, which allows a person to select a guardian for his or her children. All of this is vitally important for anyone, regardless of how wealthy they may be.

Source: Dallas News, "Everyone needs an estate plan, regardless of wealth," Pamela Yip, May 2, 20104

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