One of the most common misconceptions about estate planning is that simply having a will in place is sufficient to dispose of an estate and avoid probate court. In most cases, this simply isn’t true. The will, after all, exists to lay out the individual’s wishes for the distribution of his/her estate—but the will itself cannot testify to its own validity. Indeed, that’s what probate is all about: determining whether or not the will is valid.
To avoid this unwieldy legal process—and to minimize the burden left to family members—an estate plan should include more than just a will. Here are a few other documents to consider.
- Revocable living trust. While a living trust has some of the same functions as a will, one that’s drafted correctly will help you avoid probate court—making it a necessary addition to any estate plan.
- Durable Power of Attorney. This helps you avoid the need for a court-appointed conservatorship, and is something recommended for estates of any size, and people of any age. Again, it’s a great complement to your will.
- Living will. Also called an advance health care directive, the living will provides information on how you’re to be cared for should you ever become incapacitated.
To be clear, none of these documents replace your will; rather, they work in tandem with it, allowing you to fully convey your wishes while avoiding any unnecessary legal complications. In a good estate plan, each of these items is present, working holistically.
Estate planning should be about passing along your legacy, but also easing the burden on those you leave behind—and that means going beyond a mere will, which can result in legal encumbrances. To learn more about proper, comprehensive estate planning, contact Singh Law Firm today.