Estate plans and wills are powerful documents. They grant you the ability to distribute your estate, appoint guardianship, pick your heirs, and give your most valuable belongings to your favorite people. It’s essential you have it in mind that a will is only a part of an estate plan, not an estate plan. A complete estate plan entails more than just a will. It should include an advanced directive, a power of attorney, and, if you so choose, trusts for your children, favorite charity, grandchildren or even a beloved pet.

Here is a concise explanation of each. An estate plan and a will grants you control over your assets, health decision, and a peace of mind for your family.

Estate planning allows you to prepare and forecast, during your life, for the supervision and control of your estate during your life and after death, maximizing gift, estate, and income tax in the process. By contrast, a will is a document that guides who will take your property after your death and it selects a legal delegate to ensure your wishes are carried out. An estate plan helps you plan for incapacity, reduce and eliminate uncertainties over the handling of a probate. It also minimizes the worth of the estate by decreasing tax and some other expenses. The ultimate goal of estate planning can be determined by the specific goals of the client and may be as simple or complex as the client’s needs dictate

It should be clear that an estate plan involves the trusts, will, beneficiary designations, powers of appointment, property ownership (joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, tenancy in common, tenancy by the entirety), gift, and powers of attorney. It is the durable financial power of attorney and the durable medical power of attorney. In contrast, a will entails a property that is in your name when you die. A will never covers property possessed in joint ownership. A will never covers property possessed in joint ownership. For a property to be included in a will, it must be put in the estate plan. An estate plan covers every property that has been handed over to a trust. Some special decisions like whether to be buried or cremated can also be part of a will. It should be noted that some complex estate plans may even cover winding up a business.

A will go into effect only after you die, while an estate plan takes effect as soon as you create it. This implies that an estate plan contains documents like a trust, will, etc. which takes effect as soon as you create it. A will passes through probate. That implies that a court supervises the execution of the will and makes sure the will is authentic, and the property is shared the exact way the deceased wanted. A will permits you to name a guardian for your children and specify how your funeral should be. For an estate plan, you can plan for disability or provide savings on taxes. Your elder law attorney can tell you how best to use a will in your estate plan.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols call 734.386.0224 today.


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