An estate plan is not a one-size-fits-all set of documents. Each plan is designed based on your concerns, your desires, and your goals. When people think of planning for their death, they often think, “I need a will.”
Sometimes, that is exactly what a person needs. But, a will serves the exclusive purpose of telling the probate court and your heirs who gets what assets. Probate is not a necessary step in asset allocation. Probate can be entirely avoided by using different documents than a will.
For example, a trust (instead of a will) places your assets “in trust” meaning they can be managed by a trustee serving your beneficiaries. It allows you to avoid probate entirely. It also shelters the process of settling the estate from public view.
Beyond the will vs. trust decision, there are documents everyone should have set up during estate planning. These include Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will.