When it comes to estate planning, many people think that a will is all they need. In some cases, that is true. However, wills are limited in terms of what they can do. For many people, a will is simply not enough to achieve their estate planning goals.
What A Will Does
A will is a simple legal document in which you can list your assets and designate who they should go to in the event of your death. You can also name a guardian for your children. These are important things to do, but many people want to do more.
Do You Want To Do More Than A Will Can Do?
Do you want:
- Your estate to avoid probate, so your family does not have to deal with that stress?
- To protect your estate from taxes, so they do not chip into what you have to pass on to your loved ones?
- To set up certain conditions for how assets are passed on, or control the way they are passed on?
- To provide instructions for what your loved ones should do in the event that you are incapacitated or to address end-of-life care?
These are just some of the things that cannot be accomplished with a will. However, there are other estate planning tools that you can use.
Trusts are one of the most powerful estate planning tools. They come in many forms, and can be used for probate avoidance, tax protection and to offer more control or conditions on how assets are passed on. For example, they can allow for money to be passed on to loved ones over a period of time, rather than all at once.
Powers of attorney and advance directives, also known as living wills, are estate planning tools that allow you to dictate who will manage your affairs and how your affairs will be handled in the event that a medical condition prevents you from making decisions on your own. This is very important to most people, so these tools are often considered an essential element of an estate plan.
An experienced attorney will review your situation, learn about your goals and give you an honest assessment of what an effective estate plan would look like for you, with no more or no less than you truly need to achieve your goals.