Is a Will an Estate Plan? Or, Do I Need Something More?

When clients and I first sit down to talk about planning their estate, the clients generally comment that all they need is a Will.  

This happens with some regularity, because a Will, as far as estate planning is concerned, is one of the most often talked about estate planning tool. However, that is all it is, a tool in your estate plan. A very important tool, but a Will is not a complete plan.

After asking a series of general questions and specific questions and the ensuing conversations those questions bring to light, the clients decide whether they need a Will or a Trust, and the additional documents which make up a complete estate plan.


For a Will based plan those other documents include:  

  1. A durable power of attorney for financial decisions;

  2.  A durable power of attorney for medical decisions; 

  3. If the client is a parent of minor children, a power of attorney for minor children; 

  4. A health care directive (or living will); and 

  5. A HIPAA release.

Each of these documents perform specific functions that the others cannot. 

The big distinction between the above documents and a Will is that the listed documents are for your protection while you are alive, but not able to speak or act for yourself. That can be either due to incapacitation, mental illness, or in some cases disappearance. However, the Will does not carry any authority until you pass away and it has been validated in a Probate court proceeding. Because of this difference in timing, you need all documents that pertain to you to ensure a well-rounded set of protections is in place for you.

Although a Will is a great first step, and an important tool to have, it is not a complete plan.

Schedule a conversation with Justin Jeppesen to take the first step towards creating your complete estate plan! With our Complimentary Initial Consultation, we help our clients explore their own situations and plan for their futures. If you have more questions, we would love to help! Contact Justin Jeppesen of Parsons Behle and Latimer now. (208) 562-4900