By Libby Banks
The Law Office of Libby Banks, PLLC

Do you wish you knew more about estate planning? Here are a few basics that help you understand what it is and what you might need in the way of an estate plan.

Who Needs Estate Planning?
When people hear the words “estate planning,” many think it doesn’t apply to them, saying, “I don’t have an estate!” I think this comes about from a misconception about the word estate. It makes us think of the show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous where Robin Leach showed us massive estates and excess spending by the ultra-wealthy.

But Merriam-Webster says an estate is “all of the things that a person owns.” That’s your property: your home, bank accounts, stocks, cars, and personal property. Big or small, most adults have an estate. If you don’t plan for it, don’t worry. The state has a plan for you, but it might not be what you want.

Couples with young children should remember their estate includes their life insurance policies. It’s crucial to have a plan for how that money will be managed and spent for the children!

Estate Planning is More than Distributing What You Own at Your Death
While your estate plan provides for how your estate will be distributed at death, a good estate plan does much more. An estate planning attorney will ensure that you are protected if you become incapacitated – by creating a plan to assure your choice of an executor is able to manage your assets and your financial affairs if you can’t. Proper planning avoids the time-consuming, expensive, and public probate, guardian and conservatorship proceedings that your loved ones must file to be appointed by the court to care for your assets.

Estate Planning is More than Writing a Will
As you may have surmised, a Will alone isn’t enough. A Will is only effective once you have passed. If you are incapacitated, your family will have to go to court and ask to be appointed your guardian or conservator. Failing to have a suitable plan will end up costly and time consuming for your family.

The Revocable Living Trust Makes It Easy on your Loved Ones
A Revocable Living Trust will avoid the need for a probate once you have passed and make it easier for your loved ones if you become incapacitated. Revocable Living Trusts are the best and most effective way to plan for incapacity and to distribute your assets. The Revocable Living Trust:
• Is controlled by you until you are incapacitated or die.
• Is readily accepted by financial institutions.
• Provides detailed instructions and directions from you to your successor trustee.
• Holds your successor trustee to a high fiduciary standard.
• Allows your successor trustee to quickly and efficiently manage your assets if you can’t.

Learn More
To learn more, schedule an appointment for a no charge consultation or review by calling 602-375-6752, or by filling out our website form at