Will vs. Estate Planning: What’s the Difference?

According to a recent poll, only 44% of American adults have a will. If you are among the 56% that do not have a will, you might want to create one.

When you die without a will, you place a court in charge of making your decisions. Do you want to avoid this? If so, you should start working on your will.

As you begin, you might wonder what the difference is between a will and estate planning. Many people think these are the same thing, but they are not.

If you would like to know the difference, keep reading this guide to find out.

The Definition and Purpose of a Will

A last will and testament, often called a will, is a document you create to write down your wishes regarding what happens to your things when you die.

Writing a will typically involves making three primary decisions:

1. Choosing Your Beneficiaries

When you write a will, you name who gets your money. The people you name are the beneficiaries. You can name anyone as a beneficiary, including your kids, siblings, or organizations.

2. Determining Who Gets Your Things

The next decision to make with a will is choosing who gets your things. Once you name the beneficiaries, you should list each specific item you wish to give them.

3. Writing Down Your Funeral Wishes

The third decision to include in your will is your funeral wishes.

Do you want cremation or burial? Do you want a funeral or memorial service? Do you have specific needs or desires for this event?

A vital thing to understand is that a will is just one part of an estate plan. You can visit an estate planning attorney to create a will and to use other essential estate planning tools.

The Definition of Estate Planning

Estate planning is a much broader event than creating a will. While creating a will is a part of estate planning, it is just one part of it. In addition to creating a will, you can use a variety of other tools in your plan.

A trust, for example, is another standard tool used in estate planning. A trust is not the same thing as a will, as it allows you to create an estate plan that starts immediately.

You can also create a living will in your estate plan. A living will allows you to plan for medical decisions your family must follow if you become incapacitated.

A lawyer can give you an estate planning checklist to help you decide what tools to use in your plan. Your estate planning attorney can also explain each one to you and offer recommendations for your situation.

How to Start Your Estate Planning Today

Estate planning is an essential part of life, and you should begin working on yours soon. If you need help or advice about estate plans, contact us.

We can help you determine what tools are best for your situation, and we can help you start protecting your family and assets through an effective estate plan.

Call or email us today to learn more!