Estate Plan Vs. Will: What You Need To Know

Middleton Law Offices has had the pleasure of serving Northwest Ohio for over 100 years. In that time, the laws around estate planning have changed in many surprising ways. Gone are the days of sitting around the attorney’s office, waiting for the reading of the Will, and everything going through probate court. One thing we hear a lot is that someone may not want an “estate plan”, preferring to get “just a Will.” However, these two choices aren’t mutually exclusive! A Will serves just as a part of an estate plan and it’s FAR from the only document that you will need.two men discussing paperwork

The term “Estate Plan” refers to any planning that you do for your incapacity or passing. While the phrase is certainly more synonymous with more comprehensive planning, this simply isn’t the case. An estate plan can also include documents such as Trusts, Power of Attorney documents, HIPPA release, and a Living Will!

On the other side, a Will (or Last Will And Testament) is a document that outlines how possessions will be passed to survivors after probate court. While a Will serves as a cornerstone to any comprehensive estate plan, it is far from the only element. A will does not provide any protections for people while they are alive. It also guarantees probate court, which is a time consuming and expensive task.

Not to be confused with a Will, is a Living Will. Unlike a Will, which allows for the guidance of property, a Living Will is a medical document to assist you while you are alive. Specifically, it allows you to dictate what kind of care you would like to receive while you are alive, but incapacitated. Made famous by the Terri Schiavo case that raged from 1998 till 2005, its main function dictates how you will be cared for if you end up in a persistent, vegetative state. It’s an important and valuable document.

It’s like squares and rectangles, not all estate plans need to have a Will, but all Wills are a part of an estate plan! When you talk with your planning professional, don’t be turned off by the phrase estate plan. This means the person you are working with is ensuring you (and your family) are receiving complete and comprehensive care. If you have any questions about this post, or your own planning, be sure to give us a call at 419-352-7522

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. This article is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from a licensed attorney

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