There are a lot of reasons why you shouldn't ignore estate planning. It's not just a topic for the rich to worry about. Here are some things that estate planning can address:

  • It can permit you to specify exactly who you want to be in charge of distributing your assets. If you ignore this, the courts may end up appointing someone.

  • It can allow you to designate the guardian(s) of your choice for your child(ren).

  • It can help you designate who gets what when you're gone instead of leaving it up to laws and formulas.

  • It can help you distribute your wealth to your children or grandchildren over a period of time, not all at once, which can be smart if you think they might not yet be mature enough to deal with a windfall.

  • It can help you minimize court costs and taxes and therefore maximize what you leave to your loved ones.

  • It can structure your affairs so that your business continues after you check out.

If you're thinking to yourself, "Jeepers, estate planning sounds pretty useful and important," you're right.

Learn more about estate planning at this useful (but not entirely unbiased) website: Estate Planning Links. Also of interest might be this piece on how to plan your will.

And by the way, this is exactly the kind of topic that a financial advisor can help you with. Learn how to find one at our Advisor Center -- and perhaps check out TMF Money Advisor service, which features customized independent advice from a variety of objective financial experts.