If in one hand you are holding a bottle opener, nail file, corkscrew, scissors, a variety of blades and a plastic toothpick, then you likely are holding a Swiss Army knife. This is a useful collection of tools which are designed to provide solutions for a variety of situations.

Next, pick up a binder containing documents which:

- provide for the orderly distribution of your assets without probate;

- provide for financial agents and successor trustees who can help manage your assets in times of incapacity or upon your death;

- provide for the nomination of guardians to care for your minor children if you can’t;

- provide guidance from you regarding the extent of medical treatment you prefer at the end of your life; and,

- provide permission for your medical agents to communicate with medical staff to see that your wishes for treatment are followed.

Instead of holding an overambitious knife you are holding a trust-based estate plan which is designed to guide you through many life events.

There is no denying the utility of a good Swiss Army knife. Whether at home, at work or on a camping trip, the knife is full of options to solve small problems. However, when faced with the serious life situations listed above, it is the trust-based estate plan which provides the needed solutions.

Your trust-based estate plan offers specific tools to help you and your family. The documents in your estate plan won’t open a wine bottle or unfold to become the world’s tiniest scissors, but they are a responsible way to prepare for the larger events that life may bring.

Do you need a screwdriver, a small blade or pliers so tiny that they would be at home in a dollhouse? Then search that messy drawer in your kitchen for your trusty Swiss Army knife. It will serve you well when the task is small, and the stakes are low.

But if you need documents to provide guidance and control during difficult times, then get started on your trust-based estate plan today. When your plan is established, your Swiss Army binder will provide you with peace of mind knowing that you are ready for all of life’s circumstances.