If you are thinking about estate planning for the first time or you are considering modifications or additions to your existing estate plan, good for you. A staggering number of American adults have no estate plan in place, so your effort is sincerely commendable. As you begin working with an experienced estate planning attorney in order to either create or modify your plan, it is important to understand that there are many estate planning tools for you to choose from and potentially benefit from. Although when most people think about preparing an estate plan they think about crafting a will, a will is a document that is limited in scope. Certainly, crafting a legally enforceable will with the assistance of an estate planning attorney is critically important. However, it is also important to understand the limitations of this documentation and to explore additional estate planning tools moving forward.
Wills Are Necessary but Are Not Comprehensive
The purpose of a will is to ensure that sentimental and/or otherwise valuable property is passed along to an individual’s loved ones in accordance with that individual’s wishes. A will only applies to property passed along after an individual has died. By contrast, living trusts are used to pass property during the course of an individual’s lifetime.
In addition, wills are concerned almost exclusively with property. In order to make enforceable plans related to one’s end-of-life care and/or medical/financial decisions that must be made in the event that an individual is incapacitated by illness or injury, other estate planning tools must be utilized. You may wish to speak with your attorney about power of attorney designations and/or advance healthcare directives if you have not already done so.
Creating a will is an undeniably important task. Even if you do not have a great deal of material wealth, you likely have some sentimental property that you wish to pass along in the event of your death. It is simply important to understand that wills are not comprehensive estate planning tools and that it will likely benefit you to speak with your attorney about a broader estate planning vision when you arrive at your initial consultation.
Estate Planning Guidance Is Available
If you are interested in creating a will specifically or are interested in creating an estate plan more broadly, please do not hesitate to connect with an attorney experienced in this area of law. Creating a will is a critically important task that should be completed (as soon as is possible) by every legally independent adult in the U.S. But it is not the only estate planning task that adults should consider. Every legally independent adult is also in need of an advance healthcare directive and a power of attorney designation, at minimum. In addition, each individual’s situation may benefit from other estate planning tools, such as guardian designations for minor children, trusts and conservatorships. To find out which estate planning tools are relevant and potentially beneficial for you and your family, please schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney today.