Creating a will is an important step every person can take to protect their assets and document their wishes for distribution. However, too many people make the mistake of thinking that a will is all they need for a solid estate plan.
In reality, there are a number of different planning tools that can be used in conjunction with a will. The various options can provide people with wider protection and the ability to make specific choices that ensure their wishes are intact, even when they cannot express them.
For instance, your will is not going to be read and executed until after death. This means that anything regarding end-of-life care and medical wishes needs to be expressed elsewhere. Having a living will, and designating a health care surrogate can give your loved ones the information and guidance they need to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Also, giving someone a durable power of attorney will allow your loved ones to manage your property, if you become incapacitated.
You can also have documentation in place that helps specific people access specific information, like digital accounts or sensitive data. Because you might need to update and change this information frequently, it may not be part of your will. Instead, you can have it available in a separate document.
Finally, you might also want to think about other estate planning options like trusts. People can establish a trust for specific reasons and during their lifetimes, so it may be something to consider as an addition to your estate plan.
Other options, including those discussed in this New York Times article, can also be important to consider in addition to a will.
While this might seem overwhelming, you should know that you can discuss your specific estate planning needs with an attorney who can help you identify the most effective tools for you. With legal guidance and plan that reflects the full extent of your wishes, you can be confident that you, your property and your loved ones are protected.