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Is having a will the same as having an estate plan?

On Behalf of | Oct 15, 2021 | Estate Planning And Probate |

The idea of passing away without leaving any instructions for surviving family members is not appealing to most people. As a result, many Michigan residents decide to create a will so that their loved ones know what to do with their remaining assets. However, if parties think that having a will is the same as having an estate plan, they may want to think again.

A will is certainly an important document, but generally, it is only a piece of an entire estate plan. The will can instruct who should handle the probate process, who could act as guardian of any minor children and indicate who should receive certain assets. Having just a will, however, often leaves many gaps in information that may leave loved ones wondering what to do.

A comprehensive estate plan could also include the following documents:

  • A trust that provides additional protection for assets and more specific instructions on how those assets can be used
  • Beneficiaries named to payable-on-death accounts, such as retirement accounts, checking and savings accounts, life insurance policies, and more
  • Power of attorney designations that could put trusted individuals in charge of important matters in the event of incapacitation
  • Advance health care directives that can explain wishes for care when facing serious or potentially terminal medical situations

An estate plan can cover many more topics that just a person’s assets, but many Michigan residents may not realize that. Before they think that they have finished their plans because they have created a will, they may want to explore the other options available to them. After all, having instructions in place for incapacitation or long-term care is just as important as after-death matters.

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