Each time a new year is ushered in, Americans are reminded to refocus their intentions, act in accordance with their values and set priorities. It is perhaps for this reason that many individuals either draft or review their estate plans at the beginning of the year. When thinking about the future, it is not difficult to be reminded that one day our interests will need protecting in very different ways.

Some individuals question whether they are truly in need of an estate plan if their assets amount to less than the current estate tax exclusion amount. It is important to understand that estate planning is about much more than protecting one’s financial income from a significant tax burden.

First and foremost, estate planning allows an individual to express his or her wishes in regards to end-of-life care, guardianship for minor children and asset distribution in the event of his or her death. In addition, it also allows an individual to express his or her wishes in regards to financial matters, medical care and practical issues in the event that he or she should become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make personal decisions.

It is true that an experienced estate planning attorney can aid you in asset protection while minimizing your tax burdens. However, there are so many more reasons why it is important to craft an estate plan and review it when necessary. As the new year begins in earnest, please consider taking the next step in your estate planning process.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Estate Planning Is About More Than Estate Taxes,” Mike Piper, Jan. 6, 2015