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In estate planning, an estate is everything you own, not a mansion

Many people don't think they need an estate plan. They have a average sized home, an average retirement account, not much life insurance and little in savings, which they might think doesn't constitute an estate. The truth is, an estate is everything a person owns. Just because the media and reality TV shows talk about sprawling estates and enormous mansions doesn't mean the average Jane or Joe doesn't have an estate.

Because of the misconception of what an estate is, many people decide to forego estate planning. This can be a mistake that could cost a person's family or friends the inheritance a person wanted to leave them. Sometimes people don't understand that states set up a plan of how a person's belongings are to be distributed if the person was to die without a will. It might not always be what the person wanted.

An estate plan can help a person decide who gets certain assets, including property and money. It can also specify how a person spends money and at what age they are to inherit the money or property.

An experienced estate attorney can help a person or couple set up an estate plan that will allow them to pass along their assets according to their wishes, instead of in accordance with state guidelines if the person doesn't have a will. This estate plan can be for anyone over the age of 18 and many times, it is a good idea to set it up sooner rather than later, to help plan for unexpected events.

Source: Forbes, "'I Don't Have An Estate. Why Do I Need An Estate Plan?'," Deborah L. Jacobs, June 26, 2012

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