LegalShield logo
Cart Cart for checkout

Small Business


Intellectual Property

*Supplements for specific legal matters can be added at any time when you choose the monthly subscription option only. Supplements are not available on the annual subscription option at this time.

Monthly and annual membership fees paid for the current membership period are non-refundable and the contract remains active until the end of the Eligibility Period.

Affordable Legal Help For Everyday IssuesInfo icon

 July 31, 2023

Estate Planning Guide – Everything You Need to Know

Happy mother, child, father and grandmother sitting on a couch.

Planning the future of your estate is a huge endeavor! Before you start searching “estate planning for dummies” on the internet, check out our comprehensive Estate Planning Guide (PDF). We know the estate planning process can be confusing. That’s why we’ve compiled this helpful guide to offer insight, tips, and peace of mind as you create your estate planning checklist.

Estate Planning basics

Your estate is the collection of all your personal belongings like your home, car, cash, accounts, investments, real estate, interest and more. It’s essential to protect your possessions with detailed estate planning! This ensures that your assets will be passed on in the way you intend, while minimizing taxes, fees, and distress for your loved ones.

Your estate plan can also explain the kind of healthcare you will want if you cannot make your own decisions in the future. It tells your loved ones your wishes regarding long-term care, finance management, and plans for your children’s welfare.

Estate Planning documents: 5 main types

In our guide, we focus on the five most essential and common documents that you need for estate planning 101.

1. Revocable/Irrevocable Trust

This is a legal arrangement in which your trustee manages assets on behalf of the beneficiaries you’ve named in your trust. A revocable living trust is flexible, meaning you can amend or revoke it during your lifetime. But once an irrevocable trust is set, you cannot alter it again.

2. Last Will & Testament

Your Last Will & Testament outlines how you want your assets distributed after your death. You can also name an executor for your estate, as well as a guardian for any minor children. Your Will only comes into effect upon your death.

3. Power of Attorney

This document grants an agent of your choosing the legal right to make decisions regarding your health, finances, and other legal issues. Durable Power of Attorney is the most common one for estate planning since it remains in effect when you’re unable to make decisions.

4. Healthcare Power of Attorney

This is the document that lets you choose someone to specifically make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

5. Living Will/Advance Directive

Here, you can express your wishes about end-of-life medical treatment if you become unable to communicate them yourself. This includes details about CPR, life support, organ donation and other important end-of-life issues.

The complete Estate Planning process

If you are looking for some estate planning examples, here is a quick list of the steps you’ll need to take throughout this process.

  1. Make a list of all your assets.
  2. Create a Last Will/Testament if you don’t already have one.
  3. Create a Living Trust.
  4. Design a Durable Power of Attorney.
  5. Create a Healthcare Proxy.
  6. Design a Living Will.
  7. Store all these important documents in a safe place.

LegalShield can walk with you through this journey, every step of the way. Your LegalShield lawyer is available for consultation, review of documents up to 15 pages each, assistance with letters and phone calls, and more. We also make creating your Will simple and convenient with our Will questionnaire. Access your LegalShield benefits directly through our mobile app.

You can download our Estate Planning Guide (PDF).


Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (“PPLSI”) provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to PPLSI members through membership-based participation. Neither PPLSI nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation, or advice. The information available in this blog is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations. The blog post is not a substitute for competent legal counsel from a licensed professional lawyer in the state or province where your legal issues exist, and the reader is strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel for your specific legal matter. Information contained in the blog may be provided by authors who could be a third-party paid contributor. All information by authors is accepted in good faith, however, PPLSI makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of such information.


Related Content

Woman setting up an Estate bank account.

How to Set Up an Estate Account in 4 Steps

Estate owners want to be sure that all their assets are taken care of after their death. How can estate owners be sure that their money will be properly looked after, even when they are gone? They will likely appoint an executor to manage their estate for them. If...

A man and a woman considering life insurance for their estate plan.

How Life Insurance May Impact Your Estate Planning

If you are like most people, you probably only have a vague understanding of the purpose that life insurance is supposed to serve. And you may not know that life insurance may impact your estate planning. So when you start thinking about Wills, Trusts, advance...

Lawyer explaining estate planning documents to a mature married couple.

Essential Estate Planning Documents

None of us can prepare for every twist and turn in life. But as you age, it’s essential for you to make a plan for your property, loved ones, finances, and other affairs. Creating estate planning documents may sound daunting, but once the process is done, you get to...