Having a Will is extremely important. But a Will is not an estate plan.
An estate plan is more comprehensive than a Will. Your estate plan accomplishes goals that your Will does not and cannot.
A thoughtful, complete estate plan includes a durable power of attorney for financial matters and a health care advance directive. These documents protect you and your assets if you become incapacitated during your life. A Will does not address these needs.
Additional details about these documents are available in our separate article, How Estate Planning Protects You During Your Life.
Nothing in your Will helps you cope with long-term care costs during your lifetime. A carefully structured estate plan can help you plan for nursing home care and costs. In some cases, estate planning also can help you become eligible for Medicaid to cover some or all of your long-term care needs, while still protecting your assets.
A Will gives property outright to beneficiaries. There are no controls to protect those assets.
A primary goal of estate planning is protecting your assets, to make certain that your family benefits from the legacy you built. An estate plan often includes a carefully structured trust, designed to protect your assets and ensure that they end up in the right hands. For example, your estate plan can make certain that your children receive what is rightfully theirs.
Many different types of family disagreements can arise when a loved one becomes incapacitated or dies. A Will may resolve some issues after death (such as who receives specific property), but there are many other potential family disputes that a Will does not address. When you create an estate plan with assistance from an experienced estate planning lawyer, your attorney makes sure that your estate plan addresses all identifiable potential disagreements within your family, both during your life and after your death.
An estate plan can avoid probate and keep your personal financial details private. It also may help minimize the taxes on your estate. A Will does not accomplish either goal.
In our Cartersville practice at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia, we provide services including estate planning, elder law, Medicaid planning, and nursing home care planning. We serve clients throughout the communities northwest of Atlanta, including in Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County and Paulding County. Call us at (770) 382-0984 or contact us through our online form.