Having a comprehensive estate plan is essential to protecting your interest and ensuring that assets pass to your intended heirs and beneficiaries. Before developing your plan, you will need to discuss your estate planning goals and needs with an experienced California estate planning attorney. Working with an attorney can provide you with access to vital information that you will need to make decisions about the future. At the beginning of the process, you may be wondering: What questions should I ask my estate planning attorney?
What do I Need in My Estate Plan?
One of the most important questions to ask your California estate planning attorney is what should be included in your estate plan. Estate plans vary from person to person. However, certain key devices are crucial for most plans. In many instances, a complete estate plan will include a will, a power of attorney for financial matters, an Advance Health Care Directive, and a living trust. However, there may be other devices that are beneficial for your circumstances. Your estate planning attorney can give you an overview of the various types of instruments most suitable for you and explain their advantages.
Why Do I Need More Than a Will?
Often, people mistakenly believe that having a will is adequate to cover their estate planning needs. If you believe the only document you require for your estate plan is a will, it would be best to ask your attorney if that belief is accurate. In response, your attorney will most likely explain that having a will is one essential part of an estate plan that is meant to work in conjunction with other equally important devices. A will permits its creator to leave property to their heirs and nominate potential guardians for minor children. However, a will cannot address certain vital issues such as medical and financial decision-making during incapacity. Further, this device does not create parameters on how heirs will receive and use their bequests. Additionally, devising your assets through a will requires that your estate go through probate. Probate can be lengthy, and it may be better for your heirs for you to use estate planning devices that bypass the process.
Do I Need a Trust?
Another question to ask your estate planning attorney is whether or not you need a trust as part of your estate plan. Many people have heard of trusts but have a limited understanding of their benefits. Often, people believe that these devices are only useful for those who are extremely wealthy. However, contrary to this popular misconception, having a trust can benefit individuals with various economic resources. One commonly used estate planning device is a living trust. As the name implies, a living trust is created during the grantor’s (trust creator’s) lifetime. The grantor can place their assets into the trust to benefit named beneficiaries and be a beneficiary themselves. The grantor can also serve as trustee of their living trust and make changes to it during their lifetime. Once the grantor dies, the living trust will become irrevocable, and the trust assets can pass to the grantor’s remaining beneficiaries outside of probate.
How Often do I Need to Update my Estate Plan?
Knowing that you have a comprehensive estate plan can be a welcome relief. Once all of your documents are finalized, you may be tempted to put them away and forget about them. While it may be okay to put everything to the side initially, it’s crucial that you revisit your estate plan and make updates. Your life will change over time, but your plan will remain the same. However, it’s crucial that you take action so that your plan aligns with your life and circumstances. To prepare for this inevitability, you should ask your attorney how often you should be coming in to review and make updates to your estate plan.
Estate planning is an in-depth process that involves reviewing your circumstances and goals with an experienced estate planning attorney. As you work together, asking these and other questions related to your situation can help you and your lawyer develop a comprehensive, personalized plan that is designed to meet your needs today and in the future.
At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are experienced California estate planning attorneys who can help you evaluate your situation and plan for the future. Please contact us online or by phone to set up a free consultation today. https://www.salvolaw.com/