When most people think about estate planning, they focus on a single document: a will. Certainly, wills are important tools for many reasons. They provide a way to outline your wishes for how to distribute property and who to appoint as guardians for your children.
Yet a will alone isn't enough. It can't address other important considerations in preparing for the future such as:
- Who do you want to act on your behalf if you become legally incapacitated?
- What are your wishes for medical care if you're unable to voice them?
- How can you reduce estate taxes to maximize the amount of money and property you're able to pass on?
- How can you avoid the stress and expense involved in the probate process?
Additional estate planning tools are essential for filling in these gaps and fitting your priorities. Depending on your situation, these tools may include:
- Powers of attorney for health care and finances, which give a trusted person (or people) the legal authority to act on your behalf
- An advance health care directive to specify your wishes regarding end-of-life care
- A trust, which can be tailored to accomplish any number of goals, from avoiding probate to reducing estate taxes to providing for an adult family member with special needs
With just a will, your preparations for the future will have major gaps.
Getting a customized plan for your situation
With so many do-it-yourself options online, you might be tempted to fumble through an estate plan on your own. Yet these services can't offer the customization and security that come with a carefully crafted estate plan. When it comes to investing in your future - and providing for your loved ones - it's well worth it to get help from an estate planning attorney. You won't regret the peace of mind that comes with knowing your affairs are properly in order.