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How are wills different from estate plans?

Most people have heard of wills, but not everyone knows about estate planning. Some may even believe that they are the same thing, but that is not entirely accurate. There are some clear differences, as well as a few similarities.

The similarities and differences between estate plans and wills

An estate plan and a will are both used for a person to legally document how they want their estate, or property, to be dealt with once they have passed away. Both can outline how a person wants to distribute assets, but there are significant differences. A will may be a bit simpler than an estate plan. It can be used to explicitly state how the estate owner wants his or her assets dispersed. However, it doesn’t cover what to do while that person is still living. That is the purpose of an estate plan.

Estate planning is particularly important if a person later becomes incapacitated or unable to care for him or herself at any point during life. The estate plan can outline the distribution of someone’s assets after the owner’s death, but it may also instruct how to handle assets while someone is still alive. It can also outline what level and kind of medical care a person wants or doesn’t want. And certain types of assets aren’t covered in a will and make estate planning more appropriate.

What is the right choice?

Every person’s situation is different, but estate planning is especially helpful for certain cases. This could be those who have been married more than once, or for those who have any reason to think that their property or assets may wind up in the hands of someone they do not wish. One way to determine the right choice is by working with an estate planning attorney here in California. The advice of a professional can be particularly helpful in writing wills. This is often an effective means to give estate owners peace of mind that their property will be managed in accordance with their wishes.

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