An estate plan likely includes a Will but contemplates something much more comprehensive, addressing far more than just the disposition of assets at death. It is an orderly plan designed to transfer assets both during life and at death through such means as living trusts, testamentary trusts, life insurance contracts, and joint tenancies and other ownership documents.
Documents possibly needed for a full estate plan include a Will, trust agreements, powers of attorney, deeds, beneficiary designation forms, retirement benefit elections, pay-on-death instructions, a marital agreement, a living Will, and a health care surrogate designation.
An estate plan provides for effective accumulation, growth, and retention of assets during the client's lifetime and for disposition of assets at the client's death in accordance with his or her testamentary objectives. In other words, it is a method for the client to maximize control of property during life and to take advantage of the law to dispose of the property at death as inexpensively as possible.
In estate planning, the attorney may work as a team member with the accountant and financial planner to draft requisite documents to meet the client's needs and accomplish the client's clearly identified financial goals.
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