We’ve been writing our blog for long time, and have covered a number of essential estate planning topics. This week, however, we are going to take a step back and to talk about some key estate planning issues with which everyone should be familiar.
If you are a new reader to this blog, or are a regular reader who sometimes feels as if you are not as familiar with the important issues as you should be, we’ve come up with this series of blog posts to help guide you through some of the most basic, and important, estate planning topics around. Over the course of this series we plan on building your estate planning knowledge step-by-step as we discuss one important issue or topic each week.
So, to start the series off, we are going to take a look the last will and testament. Here’s what you should know about wills and the importance they have in your estate plan.
A last will and testament is a part of almost every estate plan.
Regardless of the other tools you might choose to include in your plan, you will almost certainly include a last will and testament. More commonly known as a will, a last will and testament is simply a document in which you state inheritance choices, nominates an executor, choose a guardian for minor children, and make other important decisions.
Regardless of where you live, your last will and testament must comply with some very specific state laws. As long as your document complies with these laws, and as long as you are a mentally capable adult, you can create or modify your last will and testament whenever you like.
A last will and testament only takes effect after you die.
Because so many people know what a will is, many people mistakenly assume that it is the only estate planning document they need. While it is true that a last will and testament is a very useful tool, you need other tools as well.
For example, because your will does not take effect until after you die, it does nothing to protect you should you become incapacitated. To protect against possible incapacitation, your estate plan will need to include devices such as powers of attorney and advance medical directives. (We’ll talk about these in more detail in later blog posts.)
Further, other estate planning tools you create must be designed in such a way that they work together with your will to give you as many protections as possible. Doing this requires careful planning, and is something that most people cannot do without the advice and guidance of experienced estate planning lawyer.
Parman & Easterday