A simplistic way to understand the difference between a will and estate planning is to know a will is a document while an estate plan is a collection of documents that includes a will.
A will is defined by the American Bar Association (ABA) as the legal statement that governs the disposition of an individual’s property and assets after their demise. The ABA defines estate planning as the process of creating a will, establishing trust agreements, or creating other documents that determine what happens if an individual becomes incapacitated or dies. An estate plan may also include planning to limit tax liability and to liquidate specific assets.
A Lawyer May Help You Create and Organize an Estate Plan
You are entitled to create an estate plan on your own. The process is complex, though, and could benefit from the guidance and direction of a local lawyer. A lawyer might be able to help simplify estate planning by interpreting and clarifying:
- Property rights
- Federal taxes
- State taxes
- Trust accounts
A lawyer can listen to you, learn about your family and friends, ask clarifying questions, and help you make critical decisions. A lawyer may also help you organize your thoughts, information, and paperwork. Creating an estate plan is an important undertaking. It can be time-consuming and intricate because it means making difficult decisions while still striving to maintain family peace and harmony during difficult times. Avoid putting the business, property, or financial savings you worked hard to acquire at risk.
You do not have to struggle through the process of building your estate plan on your own. A lawyer in your area may offer support and advice, but the final determination of your personal care during your lifetime and the disposition of your property following your death is always yours to make.
For a free legal consultation, call (614) 538-1116
Understand and Clarify Your Estate Planning Goals
Like most people, your primary goal as you start to create your estate plan is probably providing for your spouse and children. A comprehensive estate plan can help you meet many other goals, including:
- Providing financial support for your surviving spouse
- Providing financial support for minor or disabled adult children
- Maintaining or creating a succession plan for a family business
- Liquifying specific portions of your estate
- Maximizing the assets of your estate
- Making plans for your retirement years
In addition to these goals, Ohio State University also suggests setting investment goals. Another important personal goal during estate planning is maintaining family peace and harmony.
Key Components of Your Will
Although not as comprehensive as an estate plan, a will is still a powerful document that can ensure many of your wishes are met after your demise. With a properly executed will, you can:
- Appoint guardians for minor children
- Appoint trustees to safeguard property left to minor children
- Establish a trust account
- Establish a living trust
Ohio State University recommends creating a will for anyone over the age of 18 who owns property. Creating a will can be challenging on your own. Your will must also be signed by two witnesses. A lawyer may be an asset and advocate as you draft your will and begin the process of creating a complete estate plan.
Key Components of Your Estate Plan
A comprehensive estate plan might start with a completed will, but it goes on to contain numerous additional documents. With the will as its leading document, additional documents that might be included are:
- Trusts and living trusts
- Charitable contributions
- Real property disposition
- Tax documents
- Health care power of attorney
There are many other documents that are included in an estate plan, which will depend on specifics like your marital status, number of children, investments, and business ownership. Your lawyer may help you determine the best way to structure your estate plan and customize it to meet your needs and the needs of your family.
Learn the Difference Between a Will and Estate Planning
Planning an estate is a legal endeavor, but one with a decidedly personal response. It is a complex procedure that skillfully blends your final wishes with legal requirements, making a lawyer who understands your wishes and desires an asset.
We hope that this article helped you learn the difference between a will and estate planning, but if you have any questions, feel free to contact the estate planning team at Bressman Law today by calling (614) 538-1116. We are ready to help you design the custom estate plan that will give you assurance of your final wishes and give your family peace of mind.