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Money isn't the only reason to have an estate plan

Many people think that estate planning is for individuals with lots of money and assets. The recent passing of Apple CEO Steve Job is a prime example. Valued at an estimated $2.5 billion, almost everyone would agree that, with this kind of money, it's important to allocate where it should go. However, having an estate plan in place isn't just for the super wealthy who have lots of money; everyone should have one. Here are a few reasons why:

No guardian for minor children: Individuals leaving behind kids should designate a guardian they wish to care for their child in the event of their death. If they don't, the court will decide. Since a court is unfamiliar with a person's family situation or dynamic, the designated person may not be the best option for a person's particular situation.

No 401(k) beneficiary: Without a designated beneficiary, the law dictates who will inherit an individual's property, assets, or even retirement accounts. In Nevada, if a decedent dies without a will and leaves behind a surviving spouse and a child, then Nevada law will give one-half to the surviving spouse and one-half to the surviving children. This could be contrary to an individual's wishes.

No health care directive: In the event of a person's death or incapacity, an individual can create a health care directive that stipulates the wishes of that person. Funeral arrangements, organ donation instructions, or medical treatments, like tube feeding, are just a few. However, without this designation a person's wishes may not necessarily be carried out as he or she wants.

These are just a few reasons, aside from money, that show why an estate plan is important for everyone.

Source: Mansfield Patch, 5 Vital Estate Planning Mistakes You May be Making, Jan 17, 2012

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