Everyone has an estate: your assets, your debts, and your final wishes. Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the distribution of your estate. Good estate planning eliminates uncertainties in the administration of your estate by creating specific instructions for how you want your estate to be controlled. A proper estate plan can even avoid the probate process by transferring ownership of your assets to trusts or business entities, or by creating joint ownership structures, which automatically transfers you property to another person at your death.
Estate planning can involve the preparation of many documents. These documents make sure that you and your loved ones are protected if you become incapacitated or when you pass away by protecting assets, designating others to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated, transferring property ownership, making gifts, deferring or decreasing estate taxes, and/or winding up a business. Such documents generally include, but are not limited to, the following: