Estate planning can be a complex process. Some people create multiple trusts, several powers of attorney and numerous other documents, like a living will. The idea that you need to invest hours of time in the creation of so many different documents could deter you from protecting yourself or your loved ones in case something happens to you.
However, you don’t have to draft a half-dozen legal documents to create an estate plan. A simple will often serves most of the needs for the average adult thinking about their loved ones and their legacy. Drafting a will can require just a single meeting with an attorney and can give you peace of mind for years to come.
What can you accomplish with just a last will and testament for your estate plan?
You can protect your minor children
If you have children, you want to make sure there is someone to take care of them if something happens to you while they are still young. The same thinking applies to adult children with special needs – though additional estate-planning tools may be beneficial in this case.
Your will allows you to name a guardian for your children to care for them if something happens to you. You could choose one person you trust and even name alternates in case they are not available or are no longer capable of taking care of your children when the need arrives.
You can pass assets on to the people you love
If you don’t create your own will, then state law decides who receives what property from your estate. If you have close friends whom you want to name as beneficiaries or a romantic partner you don’t intend to marry, a will can provide for them while state inheritance laws do not.
A will allows you to name specific beneficiaries for assets. It also allows you to provide instructions for your executor or personal representative about the sale or donation of other property. Although a will won’t protect you in the event of a medical emergency where you are alive but unconscious (you’ll need an advance directive for that), it will protect your wishes and your children when you pass away.
Thinking about the people and property you want to protect can help you create an estate plan that achieves these goals.