In general, Estate Planning is the process of documenting a plan to meet the following objectives:

  1. Transferring personal assets and wealth to family members, friends or charities; and
  2. Designating the people responsible for:
    • Taking care of your property and making financial, day-to-day and health-care decisions for you if you become incapacitated during your lifetime; and
    • Gathering, managing and transferring your property upon your death.

Many problems can be avoided or minimized though careful estate planning and communication with professional advisers.  A basic estate plan typically includes:

  1. A last will and testament;
  2. A durable power of attorney;
  3. A health care power of attorney; and
  4. A living will.

Depending upon a person’s circumstances, a more complex estate plan might include one or more revocable trusts (which might include provisions to help minimize estate tax and generation skipping tax), business succession plans, family business structures and one or more irrevocable trusts such as an irrevocable life insurance trust, a special needs trust or a charitable remainder trust.

Not everyone needs a complex estate plan but everyone can benefit from estate planning.  Having a properly prepared estate plan in place is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family.  In a future post, we will talk more about the components of an estate plan.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding What Is Estate Planning?, or any other estate planning matters, please feel free to contact Stephen L. West at 480.461.5341,or Curtis M. Chipman at 480.461.5329. You can also log on to,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.