There is a common misconception that an estate plan equals a will, and that’s it. In reality, a comprehensive estate plan can involve several different types of documents, depending on your wants and needs.
While a will is a crucial part of any estate plan, it isn’t the only document that matters. However, you may not know what documents you need to achieve your goals for the future.
When you’re ready to solidify your estate plan, rely on the assistance of a wills and trusts attorney. An estate planning attorney has the experience and skill to understand your needs better and help you create the strongest estate plan.
A last will and testament, also simply known as a will, is one of the first documents you’ll draft for your estate plan. A will allows you to plan for the future, letting you list your beneficiaries and what they’re entitled to receive, choose your personal representative, and make provisions for minor children, among many other things.
Wills can achieve many family and tax objectives. They can range from simple documents to more complex, involved plans.
Having a will is a fantastic first step, but it shouldn’t end there. A will can only minimally meet your needs.
Why a Will Isn’t Quite Enough
If you want to secure your legacy and protect your loved ones’ futures, a will is only one part of the puzzle. It’s helpful to understand the limitations of a will and why additional estate planning documents are necessary in most cases.
A Will Requires Probate
Probate is the court-supervised process of handling a person’s estate after they pass. Not all estates require probate. However, if you only have a will, your personal representative will need to probate your will.
If you plan accordingly and use certain legal tools, such as trusts, your estate may not need to go through probate. A wills and trusts attorney can determine what you need and create a plan.
A Will Gives You Limited Control
Creating a will gives you some control over what happens after your passing. For example, you can list your beneficiaries and decide who takes care of minor children. Still, a will only provides so much power.
A trust, on the other hand, gives you more control over your assets and how they’re distributed. In your trust document, you detail what assets you’re distributing to which beneficiaries and how and when they’re distributed. The trustee oversees distribution according to your wishes.
A Will Provides Little Flexibility
Once you draft and execute your will, it is a fixed document. If you wish to make modifications, you must revoke your will entirely, draft a new will, or create a codicil (a formal amendment).
When you experience a change in circumstances, revisions to your will can be challenging and costly.
A Will Doesn’t Prepare You for Everything
Contrary to popular belief, estate plans don’t just plan for death. Instead, an estate plan can also help you prepare for other circumstances, like incapacity.
In the event you suffer an incapacity and are unable to handle your affairs, certain instruments, such as powers of attorney and living wills, can help make your wishes known and give loved ones authority over your matters.
Don’t Just Create a Will — Create an Estate Plan
A well-thought-out estate plan is so much more than just a will. When you’re ready to make solid plans for your future and the future of your loved ones, discuss your situation with an estate planning attorney.
The lawyers at OC Wills and Trusts have helped countless clients in Orange County, CA, and the surrounding areas with their estate plans. We’re ready to assist you. Contact our firm today to get started.