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What kind of estate planning do you need?

Updated August 18, 2017

Last will, testaments, living will, executors; unless your first language is legalese these terms are often associated with a difficult topic, but in reality choosing how to plan your estate is simpler than it seems. We recommend taking a look at our estate planning center.

What is an estate?

According to our legal dictionary: Estate: 1. Property in which someone has an interest; a person’s right to property, such as real estate. 2. An estate is composed of a person’s total possessions, including money, securities, land, etc. (The word estate is synonymous with the word property.)

What is a will?

A will is a document that establishes how your estate will be distributed at the time of your passing. It can also indicate your last wishes, name a guardian for your children, and even decide the management of your social media accounts. You’ll need to sign your will in front of witnesses (usually, two, though this varies by state).

Your last will is simply a written way for you to state your desires for what happens to your property and children after your death, and to avoid any confusion or familial disputes.

What is a living will?

Different from the power of attorney, a living will allow you to choose someone you can rely on to make individual medical choices on your behalf. If you’re facing a difficult situation where you want to express particular wishes, a living will address them.

What is a living trust?

Otherwise, know as “Inter Vivos,” a living trust is a private document that spells out your desires regarding your estate and healthcare. It works like this; you’ll need to create a trust and transfer ownership of some of your property to the trust. When doing so, name yourself (and your spouse, if you so choose) as trustees. This means that you’ll retain control of your property.

Both a will and a living trust allow you to set the terms for the distribution of your property after you pass away. However, there are some considerations:

  • With a living trust, you cannot designate a guardian for any minor children.
  • Perhaps the biggest benefit to creating a trust is that your heirs will avoid the probate process.
  • With a will, after probate {The legal process of distributing assets from an estate after death} everything becomes public record.
  • A living will, specifies your health care related decisions.
  • A power of attorney names someone to handle your financial and legal affairs.

If you’re considering start planning your estate, visit our estate planning guide. Remember, August is Make a Will Month at Rocket Lawyer, where you can start your estate planning. 

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice.

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