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Wealth doesn't dictate whether you need an estate plan or not

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a post about how estate planning is something that needs to be done earlier in life, not later. We discussed some of the reasons why this is, and it really is important for all younger people to realize that even though you may not have as many assets as someone 10 or 20 years your senior, you still need an estate plan for the things you do have. A freak accident could claim your life, and without an estate plan, the things you do have won't be protected in ways offered by an estate plan.

Along the same lines, it is important for people to realize that an estate plan isn't just for the wealthy. It may seem that way -- estate plans are often portrayed as ways for rich people to shield assets. However, this is just a stereotype and it does not reflect the true importance of an estate plan.

Every estate plan is going to be different, and there are varying elements that go into an estate plan. Wills, trusts, life insurance, life care plans, nursing home organization, provisions for becoming incapacitated: all of these things can comprise an estate plan, and it doesn't matter if your net worth is $10 billion or just a few thousands dollars.

Given the diverse nature of estate plans, it's hard to give a straightforward answer about what should or shouldn't be included in your estate plan. But this is an important topic, and people need to think about what they are going to put in their estate plan -- regardless of age or wealth.

Source: CNBC, "Estate planning: Not just for the 1%," Ivory Johnson, Sept. 29, 2014

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