When you begin planning for your twilight years, it’s critical to know the difference between a will and an estate plan. Many people believe they’re interchangeable, but they’re two different documents that protect you, either during your life or after death. Be aware of the differences between a will and estate planning; completing one but not the other can leave you and your assets vulnerable to exploitation and mismanagement.
What Is an Estate Plan?
An estate plan is a set of documents that details your financial and medical wishes during your lifetime and after your death. This can include your preferences during medical procedures where you can’t directly make decisions for yourself.
One of the documents your estate plan will include is your will, which we will detail next. But your estate plan is critical to the management of your property, assets, and health while you’re still alive. Other documents in an estate plan include:
- A power of attorney—who takes charge of your finances
- A medical power of attorney—who makes healthcare decisions on your behalf
- Advanced directives—detail your preferences about life-prolonging options
What Is a Will?
A will dictates where your property and assets go after death, whether to a private individual or an organization. It also outlines who you want to take custody of any minor children you have and the person you want to name as the executor of your estate.
Your will is the document that outlines the distribution of your assets and who has legal responsibility for your estate; without a will, family members can make claims on your assets, potentially leading to a lengthy litigation process.
Get Your Affairs in Order Immediately
The process of drafting your will and estate plan doesn’t happen overnight, but you need to get the process going as soon as possible. Know what the difference is between a will and an estate plan to eliminate any legal complications and protect yourself as well as your property.
Vancouver Wills and Trusts is a legal firm that assists clients with estate planning in Vancouver, Washington, among other services. Contact our legal experts today to get the process started.