Last month, news of the devastating and tragic deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant shocked and saddened the world. The fact that the retired NBA superstar and his 13-year old daughter were killed along with seven other passengers in a helicopter crash is still difficult to process. Those lost in this unspeakable event also include a wife and mother of three young children, a thirteen-year-old girl and her parents who are survived by a teen daughter and young adult son, and a mother and her thirteen-year-old daughter. This heartbreaking event serves as a reminder that tragedy can strike anyone when least expected. Having the right estate planning documents in place is crucial should the unthinkable happen. Knowing what every young family needs in an estate plan is the first step.
What is an Estate Plan?
When families are just starting out, they are often busy with the demands of balancing everyday life. This hectic pace usually leaves little time to devote to long-term planning. If you have not thought about this topic, you may be unfamiliar with the devices that comprise an estate plan. An estate plan is a group of legal documents that operate to protect you and your family’s interests. A typical California estate plan includes a will, as well as other legal documents that are essential to helping your loved ones manage your affairs should anything happen to you.
Many people believe that it’s not necessary to have a will until they are older or unless they have extensive wealth. However, having a will is vital for everyone regardless of their age or financial situation. Your will allows you to direct where you want your assets to go, and to make your final wishes known.
For young families, your will is also where you will include vital information for your children. Parents will name the individuals they want to have personal guardianship of their minor children in this document. They will also nominate someone to serve as guardian of their children’s financial interests. Without this information, your children will be left in an uncertain position while the family court makes these determinations on their behalf. By including guardianship information in your will, you can make your preferences for your children known.
Your Advance Health Care Directive
Incapacity is something that can happen to anyone at any time. An accident or sudden illness could leave you without the ability to direct your own medical care or protect your financial interests. It’s critical that you have measures in place should something happen.
Advance Health Care Directive
- You may have heard of someone using a living will or directive to physicians to let their medical care providers know their treatment preferences. In California, an Advance Health Care Directive is the legal device used for this purpose. You can also use your Advance Health Care Directive to identify your preferred medical decision-maker. This is the person you would want to step in on your behalf if you became incapacitated. Your named decision-maker would be there to make sure your directions were followed and to make any necessary choices in your place.
Power of Attorney
- A power of attorney is another legal device that many people hear about without always knowing its purpose. When another person has power of attorney for your finances, you have given them the legal right to make decisions regarding your money and other interests. The power of attorney document defines how much authority you want the other person to have and the conditions under which it will be invoked. If you become incapacitated, you will need someone there to safeguard your financial interests.
Your Advance Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney will be critical to your well-being and to your loved one’s ability to manage vital issues should something happen to you. Without them, critical decisions could end up being delayed or in the hands of someone you would not have chosen. However, by being prepared, you can make sure the right people are there to protect your interests.
At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are experienced California estate planning attorneys who can help you be prepared for the future. Contact us today to schedule your consultation. https://www.salvolaw.com/