Many people look at estate planning as something that can be put off until they get close to retirement. However, the truth is that you need to plan for your future much earlier in life. The reason? If something happened to you, your loved ones would be placed in an uncertain position during an already difficult time. So, when is the best time to estate plan? As soon as possible.
What is an Estate Plan?
A California estate plan is a group of legal devices that a person has in place to prepare for their property, heirs, and health care needs. Some aspects of the plan will address how your property will pass to your loved ones, while others will be about ensuring your interests are protected if you were to become incapacitated.
What is Included in an Estate Plan?
A comprehensive estate plan will typically include four instruments:
1) a will, 2) a trust, 3) an advance health care directive, and 4) a financial power of attorney.
Your California Will
A California will is a device used to legally leave property to your heirs. If you have minor children, you will also use this instrument to nominate potential guardians for them should you pass away.
Your California Trust
A California Trust is a device in which a grantor can place their property for the benefit of named beneficiaries. The trust will be administered and overseen by a trustee. When property goes into the trust, it becomes its legal property. Often, people will choose to create a living trust as part of their California estate plan. When you have a living trust, you can place assets into the trust, be a beneficiary, and act as the trustee. Because these assets are the legal property of the trust, they can pass to beneficiaries outside of probate.
Your California Advance Health Care Directive
A California Advance Health Care Directive is a crucial document that permits an individual to provide instructions to their medical providers to follow during their incapacity. The person can also use their directive to name a medical decision-maker who will be responsible for seeing that their directions are carried out and for making medical decisions on their behalf.
Your California Financial Power of Attorney
Having a financial power of attorney is also an essential part of a California estate plan. This legal device is used to designate someone to act on your behalf concerning financial decisions if you are unable to do so. When creating this instrument, you can restrict its applicability to certain types of financial matters to allow for broad powers.
Why You Need an Estate Plan Now
While we all expect to remain in good health and fully capable of making decisions, we have no way of predicting when a sudden accident or illness could happen. When you have a California estate plan, you can help ensure that your final wishes are honored and that you have the right measures in place should you become incapacitated.
What Will Happen if I Don’t Have an Estate Plan?
When someone passes away without a will or trust, their property will pass to their heirs according to the law rather than their preference. Additionally, their assets and possessions will have to go through the costly and expensive process of probate.
Suppose you were to suddenly become incapacitated and did not have an advance health care directive and power of attorney. Without these essential estate planning instruments, your loved ones would be left to manage your assets and make health care decisions without your input. Further, depending on the circumstances, they may have to go through conservatorship proceedings to have legal decision-makers named. You need to have measures in place so that the person of your choosing is there to make decisions on your behalf at the time they are required.
It’s Never Too Late to Estate Plan!
If you are concerned that you have waited too long, the good news is that it’s never too late to estate plan. California estate planning attorneys can work with people of all ages and your estate plan can be created at any stage of life. However, it’s crucial that you work with an experienced California estate planning attorney during the process.
Contact a California Estate Planning Attorney
At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are experienced California estate planning attorneys who can help you evaluate your situation and prepare for your future. Please get in touch with us online or by phone to set up a free consultation today. https://www.salvolaw.com/