What is the Difference between an Estate Plan and a Will?

Updated: Oct 12

A Will is a powerful document. It gives you the ability to choose your heirs, making sure that your estate will be distributed accordingly and decide on guardianship, amongst other things. But it is important to keep in mind that a Will is just a part of an estate plan, not the entire estate plan.

Estate planning and Will writing are two processes that go often hand in hand, but many people do not know the difference between the two or think that they are interchangeable, but they are not.

Estate Plan
What else is included in an Estate Plan?

Estate Plan

An estate plan is a comprehensive suite of documents including some that are effective during your lifetime and some that will take effect only after your death. Together these documents legitimize who has the power to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf during your life and who receives your assets at death.


A traditional Will sets out where you want your assets to go at your death and who you would like to serve as guardian of your minor children. A will also names an executor who will be in charge of distributing your assets to the right people or charities.

What else is included in an Estate Plan?

The other common documents that comprise an estate plan include:

  • Power of Attorney: In case you were incapable of making financial or health-related decisions on your own, a power of attorney is a document which allows you to select a person you trust to make such decisions on your behalf. You should provide this person with as much instructions as you can and inform them that you have granted them this responsibility. It is a big responsibility and knowing your wishes will make the process much easier.

  • Living Will: Sometimes called an advanced directive, a living will is a document that states your wishes in certain health-related scenarios. Whereas a power of attorney gives another person the power to make decisions over your care and assets if you are incapacitated, a living will lets you spell out exactly what you want done in specific cases. Often times, this involves what might happen if you are in a coma or cannot be resuscitated.

  • Trust Documents: Trusts are a great way to provide for the people, animals and organizations you care about. In a trust, you set aside certain assets outside of your Will. This keeps them from going through the probate process (which can be expensive and slow) and the taxes on assets in trust are usually lower than traditional estate taxes.

These documents combine to form a comprehensive estate plan that can provide you with peace of mind and lessen the burden on your loved ones during difficult times.

Whether you are writing your Will or estate plan, it is the very first step, and it’s an important one. But that’s not enough. In the digital age, the next step is to store your Will online. Otherwise, what happens if your person of confidence is not able to find your Will in a timely manner? liteWill is the only Will registration platform that is available globally and that provides the option to store your Will online. ‘A Will that is not online is like a Will that does not exist’.

This portion of the website is for information only. The statements and opinions are the expression of their author, not of liteWill, and have not been evaluated for accuracy, completeness or changes in the law. Information contained in this article is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.

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