Estate Plan 

Estate Planning For Everyone

What is an Estate Plan?  While it sounds very grand, it’s often just a Last Will and Testament or a Living Trust.

We tend to think of Estate Plans as being something that is only arranged for the rich and famous.  But the reality is that everyone has an Estate Plan, whether or not it’s of our own making.

If you have a Last Will and Testament, that is the heart of your Estate Plan.  It specifies who is to inherit your property, take care of any minor children (if you have any), and who is to be your Executor to make sure your wishes are carried out.

A more thorough estate plan would involve adding a Power of Attorney and a Living Will to your Last Will and Testament.  These additional documents provide the means for your affairs and well-being to be taken care of while you’re still living, but after you’ve become incapacitated.

These three documents – your Will, a Power of Attorney, and your Living Will – make a good basic Estate Plan.

For those who want to avoid probate when they pass away, a Living Trust or a Family Trust involve a more detailed Estate Plan.  That plan will include a Will, Power of Attorney, and a Living Will, plus the Living Trust Agreement and several other related documents.  And not only will the Living Trust avoid probate, it provides far greater flexibility in the management of the inheritance being left to children and grandchildren.

Interestingly, those who have neither a Will, nor a Living Trust, still have an Estate Plan.

Where a person passes away who has not taken the time to have a Will or a Trust prepared, the state will dictate who is to inherit their property and who has priority to serve as the Executor of the estate.

Unfortunately, since one size rarely fits all, this Estate Plan mandated by the state is probably not the one that the person would have designed on his or her own.  But where a person has neglected to express his or her own preferences, the state makes its best guess as to how things should be handled.

Far better is an Estate Plan of your own making.

So don’t be put off by the title “Estate Planning.”  It really is for everyone.

Wit & Wisdom

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