"But I'm not rich, so I don't even really have an estate," you may protest. Indeed, the words "estate planning" may tend to make even financially solvent people balk. You may have thought of an estate as something that would include large cash reserves, multiple properties, and plenty of valuable investments. In actuality, you do have an estate—and a need to plan for that estate—even if you are technically poor.

What Constitutes an Estate?

An estate is made up of several things, with your assets being the most obvious component. Your assets can include

  • Your primary residence
  • Any additional property that you own
  • Your bank accounts
  • Your investment vehicles
  • All physical property, including jewelry and furniture

Assets may also include anything else that you own or retain partial ownership in. Another component of your estate can include your debts. If you pass away while owing money, that debt must be repaid from the estate property before it can be distributed to your beneficiaries.

Even if you own very little, you probably still have some type of property that you would like to pass on to your children, other family members, or close friends. Working with an estate attorney helps you to make sure that anything you want passed on will go to the right people, and that your debts get paid so that those people don't have that burden.

How is Your Family Provided For in Estate Planning?

If you are a parent, designating a guardian for your minor children, or for your disabled adult children, is an important part of estate planning. A major part of your estate planning will typically involve creating your will with the help of a will lawyer or an estate planning attorney.

In your will, you will need to specify a guardian for your children in the event of your death. If you pass away with no will, the decision about where your children will live will be in the hands of a judge.

Guardianship is not automatically assigned to a close family member. If you want your kids to be raised by your mother in the event of your death, it is vital that you explicitly state that in your will. Otherwise, child guardianship is entirely at the judge's discretion, and the judge may not have the same thoughts about your children's future as you do.

Ultimately, your future will be made much simpler if you have your estate properly planned. Working with an estate attorney, such as Beck Law Office PC LLO, will allow you to have peace of mind, and that is something that is priceless whether you're wealthy or poor!