Who needs estate planning?

Almost everyone, regardless of (1) the value of the property in his or her estate, or (2) the variety of the property in his or her estate, or (3) his or her marital status, or (4) his or her parental status, needs estate planning. If your estate is small and truly uncomplicated, your estate planning may only focus upon who is to care for you upon your incapacity, who is to receive your property after your death and, more importantly, who should be the guardian of any of your children who are minors at your death. If your estate is larger, you should be concerned not only with the foregoing, but also with the different ways to preserve your property for your heirs. For example, estate planning often involves planning to reduce or eliminate the amount of estate taxes (also known as "death taxes" or “inheritance taxes”) which otherwise might be payable on your death, and planning to protect property for disabled beneficiaries.

Regardless of the size and complexity of your estate, or your marital or parental status, you will want to designate who, in the event of your incapacity, is to manage your affairs, to care for you, and to make health care decisions for you or on your behalf. Therefore, in addition to a last will and testament, you should also consider such options as advance health care directives and durable powers of attorney for property/financial affairs.