For many of us, life involves quite a bit of planning. While working, people often plan for retirement. Those with kids may prepare for future expenses such as college tuition. Some plan for the future by saving for vacations and other significant costs throughout the year. Another crucial yet often overlooked area that requires attention is estate planning. The reasons people may delay or avoid making estate preparations can vary. However, having the right estate planning devices in place for your life is essential. If you have not prepared for your estate, you may be wondering: Why do I need a California estate plan?
What is a California Estate Plan?
A California estate plan refers to two main areas:
- Your overall strategy regarding how you intend to protect your health and financial well-being and leave your assets to your beneficiaries; and
- A group of documents and devices that are in place to ensure that your interests are protected now and in the future.
What Should be Included in My California Estate Plan?
Every estate plan is as unique as the person to which it applies. Therefore, what you may need for your plan may be different from another person. That being said, some estate planning devices are usually essential. These instruments include your: Will, Advance Health Care Directive, Power of Attorney for Finances, and a Living trust.
- Your will, or last will and testament, is the legal document you will use to state how you want your assets to pass to your heirs. You will also use your will to name a personal representative to assist in the administration of your estate. If you are a parent, this is the document you will use to identify your preferred guardians for your minor children. When you pass away, your will is going to be submitted to a California probate court that will oversee your estate’s administration as it goes through the probate process.
Your Advance Health Care Directive
- Your Advance Health Care Directive is the device you will use to leave treatment instructions for your medical providers to follow if you become incapacitated. You will also use this instrument to name your preferred medical decision-maker. Your decision-maker will be responsible for helping to ensure that your care instructions are followed and for making treatment decisions on your behalf.
Your Power of Attorney for Finances
- Your power of attorney for finances is the legal device you will use to safeguard your financial interests during incapacitation. This instrument allows you to name another person to step into your place and manage your financial responsibilities. Your chosen representative can complete tasks such as paying your bills, accepting monies owed to you, and making investments for your financial benefit. Your power of attorney can be drafted to give the designated person broad or limited authority over your finances.
Your Living Trust
- A living trust is a legal device in which the grantor (trust creator) can place assets for the benefit of named beneficiaries. The grantor can act as the trustee of their own living trust and can also be a beneficiary. The grantor can also make changes to the trust as needed. Once the grantor dies, the trust will become irrevocable. The trust assets will then pass to the remaining beneficiaries according to the terms of the living trust. Additionally, living trust assets do not have to go through probate.
How Do I Prepare My California Estate Plan?
Your California estate plan will include multiple devices which are designed to work together to protect your interests. In order to be effective, each device must be drafted with the correct language for your circumstances and in accordance with California law. The best way to help make sure that you have a comprehensive estate plan is by working with an experienced California estate planning attorney. You and your estate planning attorney can review your situation and goals and develop the right plan for you.
At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are experienced California estate planning attorneys who can help you evaluate your situation and determine the best solutions for you and your estate. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. https://www.salvolaw.com