You likely need an estate plan whether your estate is large or small. Under either circumstance, you would designate someone to manage your assets and make health care and personal care decisions if you ever become unable to do so for yourself.
If your estate is small – less than $150,000.00 – your plan may simply focus on who will receive your assets after your death, and who should manage your estate, pay your last debts and handle the distribution of your assets. On the other hand, if your estate is large – meaning worth more than $150,000.00 – there are various ways of preserving your assets for your beneficiaries and of reducing or postponing the amount of taxes which otherwise might be payable after your death.
Keep in mind, the value of your estate in not the net value, that is value less debts. Rather, your estate is valued simply on the total value of your assets at the time of your death – debts are not included. For example, if your only asset is a home worth $200,000.00, it doesn’t matter that you may owe $180,000.00 – your estate is worth $200,000.00 and subject to probate unless a plan is in place.
Regardless, a properly prepared estate plan allows your family to avoid probate.