The 4 Pillars of Your California Estate Plan

Many people mistakenly believe that a will is the only item necessary to ensure that their future estate planning needs are covered. However, a comprehensive estate plan will need to include several other devices of equal importance. By having the 4 pillars of your California estate plan ready, you can help make sure you have made the right preparations.

  1. Your California Will

When you think about building an estate plan, one of the first things that probably comes to mind is your will. This essential document is where you will name the person you want to oversee the administration of your estate, or personal representative, direct where your assets will go, leave final instructions, and identify guardianship preferences for your minor children. Without a will, these decisions will be left to the law and a probate court and can take several months to be determined. Your will gives you the power to make the choices that will impact your loved ones and estate the most.

  1. Advance Health Care Directive

An Advance Health Care Directive may not come into your awareness until you are or a close loved one are facing a medical procedure. However, this document is key to protecting your health and should be in your estate plan long before the need arises. Your California Advance Health Care Directive allows you to: (1) provide specific instructions and treatment preferences for your medical providers, and (2) identify a person to direct your care if you were to become incapacitated. Incapacity can happen any time, and having these issues worked out beforehand is vital to your well-being.

  1. Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is also a critical part of any estate plan as it allows the creator to give another person the authority to make financial decisions if he or she becomes incapacitated. By creating a springing power of attorney, the document will become effective if you become incapacitated and can be revoked when you regain capacity. You can give the individual as little or as much power as you like, and can limit their dealings to certain aspects of your financial interests. For example, you may want your brother to have power of attorney over your personal checking account to pay bills while you are undergoing and recovering from surgery, but want to have someone else manage your business. In that case, your POA would be written to reflect these parameters.

  1. Living Trust

Another important, yet often overlooked estate planning tool, is a living trust. This is a legal construct that allows an individual to place his or her assets into a trust during their lifetime for the benefit of named beneficiaries. The trust creator, or settlor, can be one of the beneficiaries as well as the trustee. When the settlor dies, the trust assets can go to named beneficiaries without having to go through probate. Unlike a will, the trust administration is not public. You can also create the trust in a way that its terms can continue after your death. Further, if you have concerns about the future of your estate, the trust terms can dictate how beneficiaries use their disbursements.

Having all 4 pillars of your California estate plan in place is essential. At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are experienced California estate planning attorneys who can help you get the right measures in place for your future. Contact us today to schedule your consultation. https://www.salvolaw.com/