Is a Will Equal to an Estate Plan?

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A will and an estate plan are not synonymous.

People tend to categorize things and ideas.

If the category is broader, then several things can have this label.

For example, all cats and dogs are animals.

Still, not all animals are cats and dogs.

Neither is a cat a dog.

However, there are some cute videos out there that would challenge that reality.

I digress.

According to a recent Yahoo article titled “How Is Estate Planning Different From Will Planning?,” this same conceptualization is important when defining an estate plan.

All animals are not dogs and cats like every estate plan is not a last will and testament.
Not all animals are dogs and cats. Similarly, not every estate plan is a last will and testament.

Many people mistakenly equate a last will and testament with an estate plan.

They believe having this document means they are protected and their preparations are complete.

This is inaccurate.

A last will only provides postmortem instructions for your appointed executor, nominated guardians for minor children, and asset distribution.

Nevertheless, this foundational document could save your loved ones time and money navigating the probate courts and will help you avoid intestate succession.

Although a last will is an important part of estate planning, it is only a part.

A comprehensive estate plan helps provide directions regarding both incapacity and death.

These can include a number of estate planing tools like advance health care directives, financial powers of attorney, and trusts.

With an advance directives, you appoint a trusted agent to make medical decisions on your behalf and follow your wishes regarding end-of-life treatment.

Similarly, with financial powers of attorney, you will designate a trusted attorney in fact to manage your financial affairs should you become incapacitated.

A trust can be helpful in providing more control and instructions for distribution and management of wealth than a last will or power of attorney, while you are alive but incapacitated or postmortem.

In fact, a fully funded revocable living trust can even avoid probate in contrast to a last will.

Although having a last will in place is foundational to estate planning, it does not provide protections and directions for all situations.

Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to create a comprehensive estate plan to meet your needs.

Reference: Yahoo (Oct. 20, 2022) “How Is Estate Planning Different From Will Planning?”

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