“I can find a will one online . . . Easy-peasy, right?”
Although one can certainly complete a will online (some a very well drafted), and it will effectively transfer your property upon your death, an estate plan is much more than a list that tells ‘who gets what.’ Proper planning provides desperately needed certainty in times of crisis, often before anyone passes away. About half of the operative instruments in an estate plan are only effective during one’s lifetime—they cease to have power upon your death. Below, I try to comprehensively outline the major components of an estate plan Please note that there is more to estate planning than what is discussed below. This article only covers the common foundational instruments of a typical plan.
Broadly speaking, an estate plan addresses two main goals: (1) empowering friends and family so they might assist you while you are living, and (2) instructing those you choose to manage your affairs in death. While there are certainly people in the world that can get by without an estate plan, if you have any meaningful assets, children, family tension, or health condition, proper preparation will make the road much easier for those closest to you. Moreover, every last one of us could suffer an injury or illness. The protection an estate plan can afford you while you’re still living is invaluable.