What is Estate Planning?

"Estate planning" is simply the process of making plans related to the disposition of a person's assets (their "estate") after their death. Most people go into estate planning concerned about providing for their family after they die. A good estate plan can ensure that your family is provided for after your death, providing you and your family with valuable peace of mind during your life.

Estate planning can take many different forms, and there are many options to consider when devising an estate plan, and the option that's best for you depends on your financial situation, as well as what you want done with your assets after your death.

LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor, , Attorney at Law

Elements of an Estate Plan

The most common, and often the simplest, element of an estate plan is a will. In your will, you can leave anything you own to whomever you want. Assuming that your will is valid (and ensuring that your will meets all the legal requirements for validity is a fairly simple matter), whoever you leave your property to takes legal ownership of it. Read more


Alabama Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Alabama Cities

Alaska Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Alaska Cities

Arizona Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Arizona Cities

Arkansas Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Arkansas Cities

California Estate Planning Lawyers

Show California Cities

Colorado Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Colorado Cities

Connecticut Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Connecticut Cities

Delaware Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Delaware Cities

Florida Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Florida Cities

Georgia Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Georgia Cities

Hawaii Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Hawaii Cities

Idaho Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Idaho Cities

Illinis Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Illinis Cities

Indiana Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Indiana Cities

Iowa Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Iowa Cities

Kansas Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Kansas Cities

Kentucky Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Kentucky Cities

Louisiana Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Louisiana Cities

Maine Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Maine Cities

Maryland Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Maryland Cities

Massachusetts Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Massachusetts Cities

Michigan Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Michigan Cities

Minnesota Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Minnesota Cities

Mississippi Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Mississippi Cities

Missouri Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Missouri Cities

Montana Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Montana Cities

Nebraska Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Nebraska Cities

Nevada Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Nevada Cities

New Hampshire Estate Planning Lawyers

Show New Hampshire Cities

New Jersey Estate Planning Lawyers

Show New Jersey Cities

New Mexico Estate Planning Lawyers

Show New Mexico Cities

New York Estate Planning Lawyers

Show New York Cities

North Carolina Estate Planning Lawyers

Show North Carolina Cities

North Dakota Estate Planning Lawyers

Show North Dakota Cities

Ohio Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Ohio Cities

Oklahoma Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Oklahoma Cities

Oregon Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Oregon Cities

Pennsylvania Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Pennsylvania Cities

Rhode Island Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Rhode Island Cities

South Carolina Estate Planning Lawyers

Show South Carolina Cities

South Dakota Estate Planning Lawyers

Show South Dakota Cities

Tennessee Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Tennessee Cities

Texas Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Texas Cities

Utah Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Utah Cities

Virginia Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Virginia Cities

Vermont Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Vermont Cities

Washington Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Washington Cities

Wisconsin Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Wisconsin Cities

West Virginia Estate Planning Lawyers

Show West Virginia Cities

Wyoming Estate Planning Lawyers

Show Wyoming Cities


Drafting a Will

When drafting a will, you should consider your goals: do you want your spouse to be able to live they lifestyle that you were both accustomed to? Or would you prefer that the money go to charity, or be used to fund college education for your children? There are ways you can encourage the people who inherit your assets to use them in the way you intend. For example, you can make gifts in your will conditional on the beneficiary performing certain acts, such as going to college. You cannot, however, use your will to force anyone to do something they don't want to, but you can use money as a motivator.

Another major element of estate planning, which is sometimes overlooked, is the creation of a living will. A living will is a document in which you make known your wishes concerning major healthcare decisions, in case you become incapacitated and therefore unable to make such decisions for yourself. For example, you can state whether or not you wish to be kept alive by artificial means, if there is not reasonable chance at recovery.

Without a living will, family members often have to guess what their loved one would want. Sometimes, there will even be disagreement between family members over the proper course of action, and such fights can tear families apart. With a living will, your loved ones will be sure that they are carrying out your wishes, even if you are unable to express them.

Obviously, there are many more factors that must be considered during the estate planning process, and the information above provides only a few examples. If you are unclear about what estate planning options are best for you, you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney.


Find the Right Lawyer Now

Top Rated Lawyers

View attorney profiles and see how other LegalMatch users rate attorneys that may respond to your case.

Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer
LegalMatch Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer Simon M.

Simon M.

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Rating (5 users) ****

 

See Reviews
Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer
LegalMatch Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer Gregory P.

Gregory P.

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Rating (4 users) *****

 

See Reviews
Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer
LegalMatch Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer Joel W.

Joel W.

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Rating (10 users) *****

 

See Reviews
Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer
LegalMatch Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer George F.

George F.

Wills, Trusts and Estates

Rating (1 users) **

 

See Reviews

Need a Lawyer?

No obligation - Lawyers compete for your case. Choose your issue & get started now: