When it comes to estate planning, one of the biggest misconceptions is that only wealthy people need one. This simply isn’t the case. In fact, most people in Massachusetts and the rest of the country would benefit from an estate plan.

That’s because estate planning means a lot more than deciding who will inherit your assets when you die. It also includes making decisions about end-of-life care, guardianship of minor children and funeral arrangements.

Of course, no one wants to think about being incapacitated, orphaning their children or their own funeral, but failing to execute an estate plan could result in an even scarier situation.

For example, if a terrible accident occurred, an end-of-life plan would let your family know whether you would like to be kept on life support, and if so, for how long. Without it, your conflict might arise over whether or not you should be kept artificially alive, potentially against your own wishes.

Additionally, if tragedy struck and you and your spouse were killed leaving minor children, your estate plan would determine who should be the children’s legal guardian. Without it, a court process would need to take place and a judge would have final say over who should be guardian of your children.

Finally, when it comes to your assets, an estate plan is the only way to make sure that your wishes are carried out. Without a will, for example, your assets would transfer according to Massachusetts’ “intestate succession” laws, which might not result in what you would have liked.

Ultimately, unless you want other people or the state to make decisions for you regarding your end-of-life care, your children or your finances, an estate plan is an absolute must.

Read more about this topic and other estate planning misconceptions in this recent article from Forbes.