Why More than Wills Are Necessary for Estate Planning

Wills play an important part in the estate planning process. The best estate plans, however, include more than wills. Instead, the best estate plans anticipate the numerous complications that can arise at the end of a person’s life.


Advance Healthcare Directives


Medical powers of attorney and living wills serve an important role that wills simply do not touch. A medical power of attorney can be used to appoint someone to make healthcare decisions in case you become incapacitated. A living will can be used to determine what type of life-prolonging measures you would like if you end up on life support. 


If you fail to create these documents, your loved ones will be placed in the difficult position of determining what type of care you would like to receive, which can lead to fighting among your loved ones.


Controlling How Assets Are Spent


Wills can be helpful to pass assets, but the language in wills regarding how assets should be spent is often not enforceable. As a result, it is often necessary to utilize different estate planning tools. Fortunately, trusts can be used to manage assets after a person’s death and can control a person’s spending habits. 


An experienced attorney can help you create a trust that properly restricts how assets are spent. 


Life Insurance Can Be Helpful


If a person passes assets through a will, the probate process will likely still be necessary. This means additional expenses and time. 


For individuals who have estates with substantial assets or who heirs with specific needs, it is often the case that life insurance can be utilized efficiently to pass wealth to heirs or an estate that avoids the probate process and as a result escapes taxation.


Beneficiary Designations


Wills control the flow of many different assets, but beneficiary designations are used in several important types of accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs. 


If you fail to appoint a beneficiary in any of these accounts, the distribution of assets can proceed in a way that you do not intend. Not only is it important to designate a beneficiary, but you should also look at these documents every few years or after every major life event to make sure that they reflect your wishes.


Periodic Review of Estate Planning Documents


In addition to creating estate planning documents, it is just as important to periodically to review them to make sure that the beneficiaries are correct and that all beneficiaries know where to obtain copies of your estate plan. Small mistakes like failure to properly split assets or not changing beneficiary designations can have undesirable effects. 


Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer

There are several complex issues involved with the end of a person’s life that fall outside the scope of a simple will. An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you anticipate the numerous issues that arise. Contact Ettinger Estate Planning today to schedule a free consultation.

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