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 permits you to specify exactly whom you want to be in charge of distributing your assets. Ignore this, and the courts may end up appointing someone.

  • It lets you designate guardians of your choice for your children.

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

  • It can assist you in distributing your wealth to your children or grandchildren over a period of time, not all at once, which can be a smart move 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 by visiting our Advisor Center -- and perhaps check out our TMF Money Advisor service, which features customized independent advice from a variety of objective financial experts.