What is Estate Planning? Estate Planning means several things, but it generally refers to planning for events following your death or incapacity. It means making very important decisions – about your loved ones and about yourself. Most estate plans include (or SHOULD include!) at least four documents:
(1) Last Will and Testament;
(2) Power of Attorney for financial matters;
(3) Advance Healthcare Directive (also called a “living will” or “power of attorney for healthcare”); and
(4) a Trust (also called a “living trust” or “inter vivos trust”).
Many plans are complete with these four documents alone. Some cases are more complex and may require additional documents and steps, such as business entity formations, specialized trusts, and more complicated tax planning. Very simple plans may not require the fourth document (Trust), but it is advisable in most cases.