What’s the difference between a will and an estate plan?

A last will and testament is the cornerstone of every estate plan. It allows you to distribute your assets, appoint guardians for your children, and even provide for a favorite charity. But an estate plan doesn’t end there. A power of attorney, for example, lets you appoint a trusted family member to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf, while an inter vivos trust can help you provide for your children without the hassles of probate court.

How often should I update my will?

It’s a good idea to consider updating your will whenever you have a big change in your life. A marriage, the birth of a child, a new business venture, or the purchase of a home are great reasons to take a look at your Will. You can either start from scratch and create a brand new last will and testament or just use a codicil to will to make changes to your existing one.

Why should you create a complete estate plan?

A full estate plan is the smartest way to make sure your assets are distributed the way you want them to be. Without a will, your property will be divided based on the rules in your state, which are the same for everyone. If you want to leave money to a charity, appoint a guardian for your children, or protect your business after you’re gone, an estate plan is the only way to make sure your wishes are known.

What’s the difference between a living will and a power of attorney?

Both these estate planning documents can help you make tough healthcare decisions now that might affect you and your family in the future. With a power of attorney, you appoint an agent who you trust to make these decisions for you, while with a living will, you can expressly lay out the treatments you do and/or do not want to receive. For example, people who may not want to be kept in a vegetative state can note that explicitly in their living will.