Although it is something of a cliché, there is a great deal of truth to the mantra that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. With that in mind, estate planning represents a reality in the lives of many individuals. Despite estate planning being an important issue for many people, there can be a great deal of confusion of what is meant by estate planning.
For example, you may be like many people and wonder if the creation of a last will and testament is the same thing as estate planning. In reality, the answer to this question is both yes and no.
Overview of a Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament is a legal instrument designed to communicate your final wishes in regard to your possessions. If you have minor children, a last will and testament might also contain directions as to who you want to assume care of them. In addition, a will may also address your desires for a funeral or disposition of your mortal remains.
The Role of an Estate Planning Lawyer
The process of comprehensive estate planning commences with a consultation with a lawyer. A skilled, experienced estate planning lawyer can provide an objective evaluation of your situation as your legal counsel. Their informed opinion can be of great benefit in developing an estate plan that is best for your needs.
Power of Attorney and Living Wills
As noted a moment ago, writing a last will and testament can be part of the estate planning process, but it rarely is the only necessary component for a truly comprehensive estate plan. Your estate plan may also include a durable power of attorney for healthcare as well as a so-called living will. Although people oftentimes conclude that a durable power of attorney for health care and a living well are the same type of thing, they actually serve different purposes.
- A durable power of attorney for healthcare allows you to designate the person who will make medical decisions for you should you become unable to so do yourself.
- A living will sets the parameters for extraordinary measures that can be utilized should you experience a serious or end of life health issue.
A last will and testament may not meet all of your needs when it comes to estate planning. Rather, because of the size and nature of your estate, you may need to consider establishing some type of trust. An experienced estate planning attorney can assist you in determining whether or not a trust is necessary, and if so, what type of trust would best serve your interests. Trusts also offer certain tax advantages for your heirs.
Talk to a Qualified Estate Planning Lawyer
The first step in the overall estate planning process is to schedule a consultation with a qualified lawyer. Contact our Living Will Lawyer Scottsdale AZ locals trust for a free initial consultation.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys for their insight into Living Will & Trust.