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Four Essential Parts of an Estate Plan

Estate planning is much more than finding a fill-in-the-blank will online, printing it out, and signing it. In reality, estate planning involves using various tools to protect your assets and make sure they go to the parties you want them to go to as efficiently as possible. For this reason, it's vital to work with an estate planning attorney when creating an estate plan.

Below, we discuss four essential pieces of an estate plan. The estate plan that is right for you may also involve additional documents or techniques, depending on your situation.

A Will

While a comprehensive estate plan involves much more than a will, a will is nonetheless a cornerstone of any estate plan. A will is a document that details what you want to happen to your assets after you pass away. In addition, you can use a will to make guardianship arrangements for any minor children you may have.

Importantly, in order for a will to be valid, it must comply with certain formalities, so it’s important to work with an attorney when creating and executing a will.

A Living Trust

A living trust - also sometimes called an inter vivos trust - is a trust that you create during your lifetime. In a typical living trust, you (the trust creator) also act as the trustee, which means that you control the assets in the trust during your lifetime. There are various benefits to placing your assets into a living trust, but the reason most people do is that trust assets pass directly to the trust beneficiaries without having to go through probate, which can be expensive and time-consuming.

A Durable Power of Attorney

Durable powers of attorney are documents that allow other people to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so due to illness or injury. They are called "durable" because they survive the incapacitation of the principal (the person who assigned decision-making to someone else). Importantly, durable powers of attorney documents can be drafted in such a way as to provide broad decision-making authority or limit that authority to certain matters.

A Living Will

Any estate plan should also include a living will, which is also sometimes called an “advance directive.” These documents outline what medical care you want to have in the event that you are unable to communicate or make decisions. For example, you can indicate whether you want CPR, a feeding tube, pain relief, or to donate your organs.

Call Us Today for a Consultation with a Mount Pleasant Estate Planning Lawyer

If you are considering setting up an estate plan or have an existing plan that you have not reviewed in some time, you should consult with an attorney as soon as you can. At DeCloux & Pierce Law, PLLC, we work closely with our clients to craft estate plans that protect their assets and ensure that their wishes are honored. To schedule a consultation, call our office today at 989-317-3989 or by email at If you or your spouse are a veteran of the armed forces, be sure to ask about our veterans discount.

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