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Estate Planning... Why It's Not Just for the Wealthy

I’ve heard it so many times over the years: “I’m not rich. I don’t need an estate plan!” Even the word “estate” causes some to dismiss the need to plan. In fact, however, there are a number of reasons why most people, even those who wouldn’t consider themselves wealthy, should have an estate plan. Here are just a few:


Even when someone isn’t wealthy (maybe owning just a home, bank accounts, personal property, and possibly a modest retirement account), probate is still required to transfer assets to beneficiaries. Probate is a court case that requires an attorney and a judge to oversee and approve the transfer of assets and pay creditor claims. Probate takes significant time (up to a year or more) and can be very expensive (sometimes costing tens of thousands of dollars).


In my experience, some of the smallest probate estates involve the biggest conflicts, many times causing latent relational tensions to resurface. However, clearly directing how assets should be distributed, as well as the person trusted to make distribution, greatly reduces the chance of misunderstanding and resulting conflict among family members.


Another problem arises by failing to name someone to handle personal affairs (financial and medical) during periods of temporary or permanent incapacity. Without an estate plan, no one has the legal authority to help, and often, a guardianship case must be opened, in which a court chooses the person with authority to make these decisions. Even those with little wealth can have this problem and, in most cases, can least afford to pay for guardianship.

These are just a few of the reasons to have an estate plan, even if you’re not what you’d consider wealthy. You can avoid probate, discourage conflict among family, and avoid guardianship. If we can help, please contact us at (813) 244-7758 or And remember, if competent, caring estate planning help is a must, Ross Spano Law is the friend you can trust!


Ross Spano

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