What is the difference? Well, Estate Planning is done during your life in preparing for incapacity or death and to make sure that your wishes are carried out. Estate Administration is done after your pass away to make sure that the planning you did prior to death is carried out according to your wishes. Both Estate Planning and Estate Administration go hand in hand.
When you are alive and able to make sound decisions regarding yourself and your personal assets, you will meet with an attorney to discuss your wishes. The attorney will prepare documents based on the information you supply. Being prepared and open is the key to planning your estate. Be prepared to advise of all your assets and debts. Be prepared to bring along bank statements, brokerage account information, and anything else that is of an asset to you. This will allow the attorney to properly determine what estate planning tool is best for you and your situation. Documents such as a Will, Advance Health-care Directive, Power of Attorney, and perhaps a Trust will be discussed and if need be, prepared. These are things that the attorney will assist you in determining. Your estate planning documents, namely your Will, is needed to make things as easy as possible for your family and executor when that time comes. At the time of your Estate Planning signing, you will review again the documents prepared by the attorney and what the purpose is for each document. You will be advised to keep these documents in a safe place but to also advise your executor or close family members where these documents are so that when, not if, when the time comes, they can be retrieved without issue. It is recommended that Estate Planning Documents NOT be kept in safe deposit boxes. They are retrievable from a safe deposit box but easier if the documents are kept somewhere safe either at your home or even with the attorney. Some attorneys have safes in which they keep the client’s Wills.
Now, when that time arrives and you are no longer on this earth, your family will immediately search for and look to the estate planning documents for guidance. In your Will, you will have appointed an Executor. This appointed person will have to have access to your financial information. It is recommended that the Executor contact an attorney to have the well-reviewed and have the plans of the decedent discussed during their Estate Planning process. One of the biggest ideas is that the will has to be “read”. There is no formal meeting of the entire family and an attorney sitting at the head of the table to “read the will”. That may have been done back in the day, but no longer. The Will is presented to the Attorney by the Executor and the probate process is set in motion from there. There are many ins and outs when it comes to Estate Administration and it is recommended that you reach out to the law offices of Rick | Stock Law. They will assist you as Executor and make the process flow smoothly.