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Yes, everyone should have an estate plan

Even if you don't have a lot of money, estate planning is something that you should do. While it's always made out to be something for the rich and famous, the reality is that every person in America should have an estate plan, even if it's just the basics.

Estate planning is important, because it helps others know your final wishes. Estate plans can also protect you in the case that you are unable to care for yourself. You can establish your will, a health care proxy, guardianship and other important documents and include them in your estate plan.

If you don't have many assets, why is estate planning important?

Your life is about more than a collection of items. Even if you don't have assets to distribute to family, you still need to have a plan to say how you'd like to be buried or cremated, who you'd like to take care of pets or children following your death and what you'd like to see happen to any assets, no matter how small, after your death. If you don't have kids, pets or any concern about what happens following your death, you should still establish a health care advocate in your plan, so that someone is there to make decisions for you when you can't any longer.

At the least, having a Power of Attorney for your health care and financial support when you cannot take care of your own responsibilities is important. If you're sick, impaired or elderly, these people will be able to step in and take care of you and your estate. They're bound by law to take actions that are in your best interests.

Finally, remember that your estate plan can be changed and added to as you age. If you start young, you can have the most basic plan that covers what you'd like to see happen if you're hurt or when you pass. As you age, you can add guardianship details or specific trusts for people to whom you want to leave assets later in life. Your attorney will walk you through the process each time you want to update your will or estate plan, so that it's consistently up-to-date on your preferences.

Although it may not seem important, an estate plan is one of the most important legal documents in your life. Make sure you sit down and consider the power it has and start one soon.

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