It’s the classic dilemma at the heart of every financial plan: Do you live for today or save for the future? The conservative and prudent advice is to live on a modest budget today so you have plenty of assets in reserve for future needs, especially after you retire. Commonly accepted wisdom seems to be that you should pinch pennies today in order to enjoy yourself down the road.
However, there’s also the very natural and understandable desire to live for today. There are likely things you want to do in life that would be best enjoyed while you’re young, not in retirement. Also, given the unpredictability of life, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to tick items off your bucket list when you’re older.
You probably know that a will is the most fundamental part of any estate plan, but did you know that a will doesn’t have to be the only component in your plan? A will can achieve many things, including the distribution of your assets to the appropriate heirs. However, a will can’t do everything, and there may be some goals best accomplished through a range of other documents known as will substitutes.
Simply put, a will substitute is a document or tool that acts in place of a will in the estate distribution process. A will substitute may apply to your entire estate or to specific assets. Some will substitutes are strictly estate planning tools, while others are financial tools that can also be used for other purposes.