When you work on your estate plan, it’s with the intention of protecting yourself and those you care about. You probably know that a will is the first document most people discuss and create. A will isn’t the only document you’ll need, though. Relying on just a singular will is anything but foolproof.
Why is it important to have more than just a will? The reality is that wills can be challenged. While you could add a no-contest clause, there is a risk that it will be invalidated depending on where you are and if laws have changed by the time you pass away. Wills also rarely protect every asset you have. If you miss anything, then that asset may need to be probated.
What should you do to make sure your will is secure and your estate plan is solid?
To help yourself, it may be a good idea to think of your will as just the first document in a much larger estate plan. You may want to look into setting up trusts or creating an advance care directive.
Most individuals familiar with estate planning would agree that there are at least four essential estate planning documents. The basic last will and testament is a part of the group. The other three documents include:
- A financial power of attorney/health care power of attorney
- Your advance care directive
- A living trust
By having, at the very least, these four documents, you’ll be in a better position if you are incapacitated or pass away.
You may want to add two additional documents, your letter of intent to discuss your wishes and a guardianship designation (if you have children).
With multiple layers to your estate plan, you’re building up a level of protection you won’t get from a singular will. While a will is often an important part of your estate plan, it shouldn’t be the only document that makes up your estate plan.
A good estate plan helps protect you and your assets, your loved ones and your wishes. Consider setting up your will first, but plan to have these other documents added as well.