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Why Estate Planning Is More Than A Will

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Many people confuse estate planning with writing a will, but the two are markedly different. Below are some of the reasons estate planning is much more than writing a will.

Controlled Spending

The beneficiaries in a will have the freedom to spend their inheritance as they deem fit. For example, if you leave your business to a child and the will is the only estate plan you have, then the child can keep the business, sell it, or even run it to the ground via mismanagement. However, there are other estate planning steps you can take to ensure your beneficiaries don't waste their inheritance. For example, you can set up a trust fund and designate a responsible person to manage it, and your beneficiaries won't be able to waste the resources in the trust.

Probate Avoidance

Everything included in the will must pass through probate. Probate is the legal process of authenticating a will and enforcing the directives the will contain. Probate is not necessarily a bad thing, but some people want to avoid it for one reason or another. For example, you might want to avoid probate if you want your beneficiaries to get their hands on their inheritances as soon as possible after your demise since probate takes time.

The only way to avoid probate is to engage in estate planning methods other than the will. For example, you can designate beneficiaries for specific assets, set up trust funds, or opt for joint ownership of assets.

Pre-Death Directives

Lastly, you should know that the directives in your will only take place after your demise. For example, if you use your will to leave your vacation home to your children, the kids can only take possession of the property after your demise.

However, there are cases where you may need other people to enforce your wishes even if you are not dead. For example, if you go into a coma after an auto accident, you need a reliable person to take charge of your medical treatments and determine which treatments you should or should not take. Under the same circumstances, you may also need someone to take charge of your business or finances. You cannot use your will for such purposes, but you can use other estate planning techniques such as advanced medical directive and durable financial power of attorney. 

Talk to an estate planning attorney if you want all your affairs to be in order while you are still alive. Good estate planning is one of the best gifts you can give to your loved ones. Visit websites like to learn more.