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Estate Planning for Young Adults in California

03/04/2024 | Blog
Young smiling couple planning their estate with paperwork and calculator on table

When you hear the phrase “estate planning”, chances are your older relatives come to mind. After all, only your parents and grandparents should worry about their assets – right?

It might surprise you, but the answer is no!

Below, our attorneys explain the estate planning process. We walk through the steps involved, and why it’s never too early to get started.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is how you decide what should happen to anything you own when you pass away. It also lets you appoint someone to act for you if you lose the capacity to make your own decisions.

When creating an estate plan, you’ll typically create the following legal documents:

  • Will: A will sets out what should happen to your assets – such as money and property – when you die, and who will take care of your children.
  • Health Care Power of Attorney: This lets you decide who can make medical care decisions for you if you lose capacity.
  • Financial Power of Attorney: Naming someone to manage your affairs if you lose the ability to do so alone.

You might also have other estate planning documents, such as a trust or guardianship. It all depends on what matters to you and what’s right for your estate. It’s a good idea to consult an attorney to determine what documents you’ll need.

Why Do You Need an Estate Plan?

Estate planning matters for three reasons.

  1. An estate plan gives you peace of mind. Even if you don’t own much, you’ll know that what you do own is taken care of.
  2. Estate plans can help you avoid a long – and complex – court process known as probate. This saves your loved ones extra grief and hardship upon your death.
  3. Without a will or other estate planning documents, the court will decide what happens to your property. They may make decisions you wouldn’t agree with.

When to Start Estate Planning

It’s never too early to start thinking about your estate plan! However, you must be at least 18 years old to create a will.

In advance of this date, though, you could start thinking about what you might wish to do with your assets. That way, when you turn 18, you’ve already got a headstart on your estate plan.

Estate Planning Process and Steps Involved

There are, broadly, seven steps involved in the estate planning process:

  1. First, write a list of everything you own. This includes bank accounts, savings, jewelry, and even digital assets such as e-commerce stores.
  2. Then, decide who should inherit your property, and what you wish to leave them. Select who should be in charge, i.e., the executor of your estate.
  3. Next, you should create a will under an attorney’s guidance.
  4. Form a trust if desired. A lawyer can explain if a trust is right for you.
  5. The next step involves setting up powers of attorney.
  6. You can then notify those named in your estate plan about your wishes.
  7. Review your plan periodically, especially if life events mean your circumstances change.

Estate Planning Tips for Young Adults in California

  1. Don’t rush your estate plan. All estate planning documents have legal consequences. Spend time thinking about what matters to you, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Estate planning is, after all, a big decision.
  2. Remember your online presence. If you have social media or online accounts, think about who you might trust to manage things such as your passwords. Your online property, and assets, matter too!
  3. Don’t forget your pets. Your will can specify a trusted family member to take possession of your pet if you pass away. You can also set up a “pet trust” to provide for your furry friend’s upkeep!
  4. Get legal advice. Deciding how to plan your estate is complicated – even if you don’t have much property yet. Do not attempt to draft wills or other legal documents alone. You could be left with an unenforceable will.

Ready to start estate planning?

Contact the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo. Our friendly lawyers will walk you through estate planning and help you make the right decisions for your future. Call now or leave us a message to schedule a meeting.