Estate Planning In A Nutshell, Much More Than Just A Will

By S. LaRue Williams, Esq
Mon, Jun 13, 2022 at 11:30AM

Estate Planning In A Nutshell, Much More Than Just A Will

Having a Will is important but it is surprising to some clients when they meet with their attorney that they need more than just a Will.  Many are caught off guard when they find out other essential Estate Planning documents are just as important, if not more important, than a Will.

There are five essential Estate Planning documents that are beneficial for everyone to have when making decisions regarding their Estate.  An Estate Plan should contain your Last Will and Testament, Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Designation of Health Care Surrogate, and Appointment of Agent concerning Burial or Cremation.  Another document that may be important for many clients is the Revocable Trust.

The Last Will and Testament document’s purpose is to make your last wishes perfectly clear and eliminate any doubt about your intention with regard to your assets.  Upon your death, your assets will be probated and distributed outright to your designated beneficiaries usually within nine to twelve months.

In the Living Will you instruct your designated surrogate to honor your wishes not to remain on life support in the event that you have an end-stage condition or are in a persistent vegetative state and are unable to communicate with your physicians.

The Durable Power of Attorney gives your designated Agent the ability to act on your behalf to handle financial matters if you are physically or mentally unable to do so.

A Designation of Health Care Surrogate provides your designated Agent with the ability to act on your behalf to make health care decisions, communicate with your physicians and request health related information in the event you are not physically or mentally able to do so.

The Agent for Burial or Cremation is to inform your loved ones of your preference for burial or cremation so there are not any questions about your wishes when the time comes.

A Revocable Trust appoints a Trustee of your choice to privately distribute your assets to avoid probate and to hold assets longer, to invest your assets and to distribute assets for even longer periods than permitted under Probate law.  If you have some young beneficiaries or do not want your beneficiaries to receive 100% of their gifts outright immediately following your death, then you can set a timetable for their receipt such as 33 1/3% at age 25, 33 1/3% at age 35 and 33 1/3% at age 45.  The trust can also allow distributions to beneficiaries at any time when needed for medical and dental expenses, support and maintenance and other needs that you designate in the Trust.


If you need assistance with your Estate Planning, please contact our office at 386-252-1561 extension 120 and set up an appointment with LaRue Williams or Jim Pickens.

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