Most people know what a Will is, but the concept of an estate plan is a little less well known. Do you need an estate plan rather than a Will? A Will is actually just one of the components of a comprehensive estate plan. It’s arguably one of the most important components, but an estate plan can also include documents in addition to a Will to help safeguard your estate’s assets.
The Benefits of a Will
Your Will sets out how you want specific assets you own to be distributed among your heirs in the event of your death. It’s an important legal document because it tells the courts who you want to give your property to. Without a Will, your property is subject to Missouri’s intestate laws in the event of your death, which means your assets might be distributed to people and in amounts that aren’t in accordance with your wishes.
A Will also sets out other things that will be important in the event of your death. These include:
- The person you choose to be your personal representative. Your personal representative is responsible for administering your estate, including the final distribution of your assets to your heirs.
- If you have minor children, the person you choose to be your children’s legal guardian. This is a very important function of your Will. If you don’t appoint a guardian for your children, you run the risk of someone you wouldn’t have chosen being given the care and custody of your children in the event of your death.
Other Components of a Comprehensive Estate Plan
There’s more to estate planning than simply having a Will. An experienced Springfield estate planning attorney can help you decide what you need in your estate plan. While a Will is an important estate planning document, there are other documents that can be important to your estate planning. These include:
Financial power of attorney. A power of attorney gives someone you’ve selected the authority to make decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated or are otherwise unable to make decisions for yourself. With a financial power of attorney in your estate plan, the person you’ve chosen to act for you can step in to take care of your financial assets if you’re no longer able to do so.
Healthcare power of attorney. A healthcare power of attorney operates in much the same way as the financial power of attorney. Instead of financial matters, the person you’ve designated in your healthcare power of attorney has the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf when you aren’t able to.
Living Will. This legal document sets out your specific wishes with regard to medical treatments that you wish to receive or do not wish to receive if you become incapacitated and can no longer express these wishes to your health care professional. For example, your living Will might state that you do not want to be resuscitated. Your living Will helps take the burden of such difficult decisions off of your loved ones’ shoulders.
As you can see, a comprehensive estate plan covers more than what happens to your assets after your death. And depending on your specific circumstances, your estate plan could also include other documents such as trust documents, beneficiary designations, and life insurance.
A Springfield Estate Planning Attorney Can Provide Essential Estate Planning Help
When putting together an estate plan, it can be important to obtain the assistance of an estate planning expert to assess what documents and safeguards the particular circumstances of your estate might require. Contact an experienced Springfield estate planning lawyer at Parks & Jones today to get you started with the right estate plan for your needs.