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The Difference Between A Will & Estate Plan

June 22, 2021

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Attorney discussing the difference between a will and an estate plan to a older couple

The Difference Between a Will & Estate Plan – They are Not Interchangeable

When planning for the inevitable, you will want to have the most secure plan possible so that your loved ones and your last wishes are taken care of. For most, a will or an estate plan will meet your needs. There is a difference between a will and an estate plan, though.

If you’re wondering what the difference between a will and an estate plan is, and you would like to plan ahead for your future and for the future of your family, Dowden & Smith, LLC, is here to guide you. You can familiarize yourself with the basics by reviewing our summary below.

woman researching the difference between a will and an estate plan on laptop An Estate Plan Differs from a Will

To understand the difference between a will and an estate plan, you need to know what an estate plan covers. An estate plan is comprised of several comprehensive documents.

A portion of those documents are dedicated to planning for various scenarios throughout your life. In other words, some documents in an estate plan are in effect while you are still alive and help other people make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. In addition, an estate plan also has documents to ensure the distribution of assets according to your design after death.

  • Documents in an estate plan that are in effect throughout your life include:
    • Durable Power of Attorney – Document appointing an agent to handle certain matters (such as financial or legal) on your behalf if
    • Healthcare Power of Attorney – Document appointing an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if
    • Advanced Directive – States your decision about life-prolonging treatment
  • Documents in an estate plan that are in effect after death include:
    • Will – Document directing how you want your estate disbursed and names the person you desire the court to appoint to handle the administration of your estate (the executor)
    • Trust – Document directing the creation of an entity that has a fiduciary duty to administer the assets transferred to it on behalf of a third party (such as your minor children)

The major difference between a will and an estate plan is an estate plan encompasses situations both while you’re alive and after you pass. A will can be a document in an estate plan, but it is only one part. There are other documents that can go into an estate plan that offer more protection to ensure your predetermined decisions are followed during life or after death.

Planning for your estate is crucial for anyone who wants to ensure their wishes are followed when they cannot enforce them. The professional estate planning attorneys at Dowden & Smith, LLC, are able to help ensure your wishes are followed and your family is taken care of with a comprehensive estate plan. Contact us at 337-238-2800 if you have more questions about the difference between a will and an estate plan or to plan your estate.

Will Planning – How it Differs from an Estate Plan

A will can actually be part of an estate plan, as seen above, which is why the difference between a will and an estate plan can be confusing. A will is a single document that states where you want your assets to go after you pass. It can also state who you want the guardian of your minor children to be and who is in charge of your business after you pass.

If you are unsure about where you want your assets to go, a will can list an executor who would be in charge of distributing assets after your death.

A will is an excellent document to have as it can save your family from painful disputes over who gets certain assets. It can also prevent them from paying costly attorney fees after you pass to secure those assets in those disputes. Hiring an attorney to draft your will now will save your family heartache and money later.

A will and testament document and pen

There is a Difference Between a Will and Estate Plan – That’s Why You Should Have Both

The difference between a will and an estate plan is fairly substantial. It’s important to remember that they are not interchangeable, and just because you have a will does not mean that all scenarios are covered.

There is another difference between a will and an estate plan. Estate plans offer an additional advantage. Estate plans only become public after you pass and offer you more privacy over where you want certain assets to go while you are still alive. This is important because it prevents family members from bringing legal cases against your legal will and forcing change.

Having both an estate plan and a will is especially useful if you’ve been married multiple times, own a business, want to donate to charity after passing, or have specific instructions for your property or health. An estate plan and will covers all complications and ensures your requests are not ignored.

Lessen the burden on your loved ones during your life and after you pass with a will or an estate plan. You’ll make the decisions about important aspects, so they don’t have to during a difficult time. Contact Dowden & Smith, LLC, if you have additional questions about the difference between a will and an estate plan and to draft your will or estate plan. Our estate planning attorneys will help you plan for your and your family’s future with a will or an estate plan.

 

Disclaimer

The contents of this website do not constitute legal advice. The information contained on this site is for general information only and should not be applied to any specific situation. Any use of the site does not create or constitute a client-lawyer relationship between Dowden & Smith and the user of the site. If you require legal advice, consult with an experienced attorney.

 

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