Estate plans often seek to achieve a variety of goals. Generally speaking, the primary purpose of a comprehensive estate plan is to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes upon your death. Without an estate plan, it is very likely that the laws of intestate succession in the state where you reside will dictate what happens to your estate, which may or may not be in accordance with your wishes.
Other goals achieved by well-crafted and effective estate plans include minimizing the tax liability that your heirs or beneficiaries incur, as well as avoiding the expense and time associated with probate. In addition, the process of estate planning can address issues related to how your financial and medical decisions will be handled in the event that you become legally incapacitated due to illness or injury.
There are a variety of estate planning methods and techniques that can achieve these goals, including the following:
- Last Wills and Testaments
- Revocable Living Trusts, also known as inter vivos trusts
- Living Wills
- Durable Powers of Attorney