Some Wisconsin residents who are creating an estate plan might think of it as primarily a way to pass assets on to loved ones. However, such plans have a number of other purposes. Having one is important for all adults and not just for wealthy people. An estate plan can arrange for end-of-life care, choose a guardian in case a person becomes incapacitated or specify funeral arrangements. These types of specific instructions may help relieve some of the stress on loved ones.

People should review their IRAs, life insurance policies and checking and savings accounts. Beneficiaries can be named so the assets go directly to them without having to go through probate.

A living will deals with what a person wants for end-of-life care. This can help loved ones with decisions such as whether to keep someone on life support. A last will and testament can name a guardian for minor children. It can also name who will get other assets. The assets that are passed on to loved ones using a will must usually go through probate, so they will not be immediately available. People might need to make other arrangements if family members need access to assets beforehand.

For example, for some people, a trust might be the right solution. Assets in a trust do not go through probate and instead pass directly to beneficiaries. Some people might think of trusts as largely being a tool for wealthy people, but trusts can have a number of uses including taking care of loved ones with special needs or specifying when and how assets are distributed.