Naperville Estate Planning Lawyer Discusses the Distinctions Between a Will and an Estate Plan

will, Naperville estate planning lawyersWhen some people hear the terms estate plan, wills, trusts, or end-of-life planning, their eyes glaze over. The subject of estate planning can be overwhelming because it is a multifaceted topic which covers many aspects of financial and healthcare planning, but also because it is often uncomfortable to talk about what will happen after you pass away. However, having an estate plan in place gives you control over the distribution of your assets, your legacy wishes, and can even help some pay less in taxes, fees, and court costs.

As an estate planning attorney, I have helped countless clients overcome their reservations and develop comprehensive plans that protect their families, both now and in the future. I am also aware that many people often have similar questions regarding the estate planning process. One of the most common involves the difference between a complete estate plan and a will.

Important Differences

A last will and testament is a document which designates how an individual’s assets will be distributed to heirs after he or she passes away. A will can also appoint guardianship of children should a parent pass away while they still have young children. It is important to realize that a will is only part of a more comprehensive estate plan.

There are some assets and property that a will alone cannot address. For example, a will cannot include directives about joint tenancy property, property in a living trust, life insurance proceeds that have a beneficiary, retirement plan proceeds, stocks and bonds held in beneficiary, or proceeds from a payable-on-death bank account. A will is not the appropriate place to document any wishes or instructions for one’s funeral and burial because often, a person’s estate is not settled until after the funeral has taken place. Finally, a will also cannot be used to avoid estate taxes or probate the way other estate planning tools can.

Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, and Trusts

In most cases, a comprehensive estate plan should include much more than just a will. Designating a power of attorney is a very important step in estate planning. If you ever become incapacitated by illness or injury and cannot make financial or health-related decisions on your own, a power of attorney allows you to select a person you trust to make them on your behalf.

A living will allows you to specify what your health care wishes are for your end-of-life care. For example, a living will is used to declare your desire to not have life-prolonging measures taken in the event of brain death or terminal illness. A living will is very important for those with families because it lessens the decision-making burden on them should you become terminally ill.

A living trust is another option for those who wish to pass property and assets to individuals or organizations after they pass away. There are many benefits to using a living trust. For example, assets do not have to go through probate proceedings to pass to heirs which can save time and money. Also, trusts can be confidential because they are not publicized by the probate process the way wills are.

Call Us Today

If you have questions about estate planning, contact an experienced Naperville estate planning lawyer to get the answers you need. Call The Gierach Law Firm at 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation today.




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