In a nutshell, estate planning is the process by which you anticipate your future needs and those of your family and then, working in conjunction with your estate planning attorney, set about ensuring that these needs will be met, both during your lifetime and after your death.
FindLaw explains that estate planning is much more than simply deciding how your assets will pass to your heirs at your death. It can also address your own needs during your lifetime.
Estate planning documents
Your well thought out estate plan may contain many legal documents, including the following:
- Your last will and testament naming not only your heirs and what you want them to receive, but also the person or persons you want to finish raising your children if you should die before they reach their respective ages of majority
- Your advance directive setting out the types of medical care and treatment you want – and do not want – in the event you become too ill or incapacitated to make these wishes known yourself
- Your durable power of attorney for health care naming the person you want to carry out your wishes if you cannot speak on your own behalf
- A special needs trust to provide for your special needs child or other family member
Estate planning benefits
The greatest benefit estate planning can provide you is that it puts you in control of your own life and assets. For instance, are you aware that if you die without having made your last will and testament, state law will determine who inherits from you and in what proportion?
The other major benefit of estate planning is that it gives you peace of mind knowing that you have planned ahead for the financial security of your family.