Many people use the terms estate planning and will planning interchangeably. They are, however, two different processes.
The basic purpose of creating a will and estate is the same – to provide relatives with instructions about how the creator’s property should be handled after their death. An estate plan, however, goes much further than a will. It outlines the creator’s wishes regarding their health care and finances.
An estate plan, in addition to dealing with the distribution of assets and legacy wishes, can help the creator and/or their dependents save on taxes, fees, and court costs.
What is a Will?
A will or testament is a legal document that expresses the creator’s wishes regarding how their property should be distributed after their death. The creator must appoint a person to manage the property until its final distribution.
A will is a vital part of an estate plan. If a person dies without a will, the courts will decide how their property will be distributed.
When writing a will, create a list of your assets and debts. Decide which assets should be directly passed to a designated beneficiary and which should be sold and divided on a percentage basis.
Name an executor and appoint a legal guardian for your kids. Be very careful when choosing an executor as the person will make important decisions on your behalf.
Estate Planning: An Overview
Just having a will is not enough, especially if you have complex planning needs. A comprehensive estate plan will help you express your desires. An experienced estate planning attorney in Sonoma County will create an estate plan customized to your needs.
The ideal estate plan minimizes taxes and other expenses associated with the distribution of the estate. It meets the creator’s individual needs and takes care of all relevant issues.
Your estate plan should ensure that:
- Assets are properly distributed according to your wishes
- Beneficiaries receive exactly what you want them to
- The rights of your minor children are protected
- Plans for end-of-life care choices and future healthcare needs are clearly defined
- Your rights and interests are protected if you become physically or mentally incapacitated and are unable to take important decisions
- All unnecessary taxes and claims from creditors are avoided
- A plan for smooth distribution of assets is in place
Remember, an estate plan is not set in stone. You can revisit your estate plan whenever you want and tweak it to make sure it is updated for your current situation.
Johnston Thomas Law is a team of experienced and skilled attorneys. We help our clients navigate complex legal issues. Whether you are an individual or a business, our team will come up with a legal solution that ticks all the right boxes. To talk to an estate planning attorney in Sonoma County, call 707-545-6542.