The three basic estate planning documents are a will, living will, and power of attorney. Wills make determinations about people and property after your death. Strict rules apply as to their drafting and execution. A living will is also called a directive to physicians. It delineates some end-of-life decisions. A power of attorney gives a trusted person power over your affairs in the event of your incapacity.
The personal representative must file an inventory of the estate. This inventory is public record. Trusts are private, which is another reason to get one. The personal representative also settles all estate debts and claims. If no one challenges the will’s validity, that’s pretty much all there is to it.
Everyone has a duty to pay taxes, but no one has a duty to overpay taxes. So, it’s perfectly okay to avoid the estate tax. Property in trusts do not pass through probate, which means this property is not subject to the estate tax.