The difference between Estate Planning & Will Writing  •  Back to Blog

When people are looking into having a will written, they may be thinking that estate planning is the same thing, or be confused about the two services. However, whilst will writing is an aspect of estate planning, the process goes more in depth to clarify what your wishes are, with regards to your finances, health, personal care and more.

In this blog we will take a look at the interaction between the two and give some examples of how estate planning services can be beneficial.

What is involved in will writing?

Will writing, for the majority of people can be fairly straightforward. A will is a legal document where you are simply outlining who should inherit your estate when you pass away and if your assets are not complicated, the process can be fairly simple.

Within your will you can:

  • Name guardians, these are people who you trust to look after any children or young people under the age of 18.
  • Name executors, these are the people you trust to carry out the terms of your will and distribute your estate.
  • Name beneficiaries, the people, organisations and charities you would like to benefit from your estate.
  • Leave Legacies, gifts of specific items or fixed sums of money.
  • Create Trusts to protect your estate against your spouse/partner marrying after your death or help vulnerable or disabled beneficiaries.
  • State funeral wishes

What is involved in estate planning?

Estate planning is a more extensive process and can involve creating several documents to protect you, your property and your family in the event of loss of capacity or death.

Assets that typically make up an estate include:

  • Your home, plus any additional properties you own
  • Savings in bank and building society accounts, and other savings such as premium bonds
  • Insurance, such as life assurance or an endowment policy
  • Pension funds that include a lump sum payment on death
  • Any investments such as stocks or shares or investment trusts
  • Motor vehicles
  • Jewellery, antiques and other personal belongings
  • Furniture or other household contents.
  • If you are self-employed or a business owner then your business may also form part of your estate.

As well as considering your assets, it is also important to consider any debts owned as these can create issues when the time comes for your estate to be settled. Debts can include:

  • Mortgages or equity release
  • A credit card balance
  • A bank overdraft
  • Loans

Whilst one of the documents used in estate planning is indeed a will to take stock of your assets and debts and value your estate, other documents may need to be written including the following.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney grants another person, usually a spouse, partner or family member, to make certain decisions on your behalf in the event you lose the capacity to do so for yourself. There are three types of powers of attorney.

Property & Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney

A Property & Financial Affairs Lasting power of attorney allows the person you appoint to make decisions concerning your financial affairs and property assets should you lose mental capacity.  Without this document your family would have to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order which is a very costly and time-consuming process taking as long as 12 months or more with potentially thousands of pounds in legal fees.

Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

A Health & Welfare Lasting power of attorney can only be used when you no longer have mental capacity and allows the person(s) you appoint to make decisions concerning things such as medical care and where you live or receive treatment.

Business planning and succession planning

If you own a business, you will need to consider how you will pass on your business to your beneficiaries. You may already have people in mind, particularly if it’s a family business. However, if your business is not family owned, you may need to consider this in more detail and think about the following questions:

  • Who will take over the day to day running of the business?
  • Should profits go back into the business or be divided amongst beneficiaries?
  • Will your death affect any pre-existing partnership agreements?
  • Does your appointed executor have the experience of selling a business?


A trust is a way of managing money on behalf of your beneficiaries – there are many types of trusts available which can provide an alternative to direct inheritance from your estate. They can be beneficial for high-net-worth clients, offering tax efficient options and helping with estate tax planning.

Letter of wishes

A letter of wishes is a confidential document that can be written to accompany a will. In a letter of wishes you can list specific items you wish to give to people. The letter usually covers items of sentimental importance, such as ornaments, furniture or jewellery.

However, unlike a will, a letter of wishes is not legally binding so it’s also important to pick a trusted person to carry out these requests, it is also for this reason any items worth a substantial amount of money should be listed as items within your will, rather than in a letter of wishes.

Estate Planning and Wills in Shrewsbury

If you would like to discuss any of the issues covered here, or speak to one of our expert estate planners, then please complete our contact form or call us on 01743 233 245. We are dedicated to helping our clients solve problems surrounding estate planning with the care, compassion and expertise to ensure your needs are fulfilled.

All of our estate planning consultants are members of the Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW). In order to be a member, our consultants must:

  • Have studied for and passed their qualification in estate planning.
  • Complete a prescribed amount of continued professional development every year.
  • Have £2million professional indemnity cover on every will they write
  • They must adhere to a strict code of practice laid out by the IPW and approved by the Trading Standards Institute.
  • Be checked for the Disclosure and Barrings Service.