What is an Estate Plan Anyway?

You have a chance to secure your belongings and look out for your loved ones down the road. Don't miss out on an opportunity to have a plan of your own.

Paloma Hospedales Mohammed
January 08, 2018

 

An estate plan is a compilation of your plans and your ultimate objectives for the rest of your life and thereafter. These plans can provide guidance on anything from how you want your finances to be handled to who you would like to care for your family pet. In broader terms, an estate plan is a roadmap of how you would like to support those you love emotionally, physically, and financially.

The common question, thus, becomes What if I don’t have an estate? Do you have $10 sitting in savings? Do you own a car? A bike? Do you have a family? Any pets? Many people don’t realize this, but your estate consists of your “stuff”. Having a plan for your “stuff” gives you the power to be the ultimate decision-maker on where you want your belongings to go during your life and beyond. Oftentimes, we have a family that we were born into and one that we chose. The law, unfortunately, does not recognize a “chosen” family for purposes of distributing your belongings once you die.

Additionally, having a plan gives you the power to have a final say on your wishes when you are no longer here. Perhaps, you have specific digital accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. that you only want one specific person to have access to once you die. Would you want that person to modify your digital accounts in your honor or potentially delete it? These are all things that you would consider in having an estate plan. Do you have minor children? Who would you want to provide support for them on your behalf once you’re no longer around? An estate plan gives YOU the power to make these ultimate decisions.

People often think an estate plan is as “simple” as a will. Remember when I noted that the law does not give us “one size fits all” answers? Your estate plan should be tailored exactly to your needs. Some people don’t need a will or a trust. Does that mean that they shouldn’t consult with an estate planning to plan for their futures? No, consult with an estate planning attorney to find out what the right fit is for you and your goals.

People often think that they may be planning for death when they have to think about their estate plan. Having an estate plan, however, is about life. It is about how you want to be remembered, how you want your goals to be achieved, and how you want your legacy to live after your life. After all, do you want your estranged Aunt Aggie to receive your house, car, and shoe collection because she is your only surviving relative? Perhaps you do, but you shouldn’t be deprived of having that option because of your failure to plan your estate.

The bottom line: You have a chance to secure your belongings and look out for your loved ones down the road. Don't miss out on an opportunity to have a plan of your own. 

About The Author
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I am the principal attorney at PHM Law, LLC. I have always had a passion for helping others to achieve their goals. During my time at DePaul, I completed over 400 hours of community service throughout the Chicagoland area. While I was in law school, I interned at The John Marshall Law School's ...

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