Estate Plans are needed…. why?
Estate Plans are so much more than a will! In the event you die, your family and loved one’s have to manage your assets and debt. An Estate Plan defines a set of clear expectations about how your assets and debt will be handled, as well as defining what to do in the event you are incapacitated. Who will be in charge of your medical decisions if you are unable to speak for yourself? Who will be in charge of your assets and ensuring they are distributed to your loved one’s in a manner you desire?
Estate planning is the creation of the documents that will facilitate the management of your estate and health care while you are alive and the distribution of your assets to your chosen beneficiaries after you pass away.
Estate plans consist of a series of documents that, taken together, provide a comprehensive plan for your future needs and wishes. These documents include:
Durable Power of Attorney for Property
Advance Health Care Directive
Each of these is an essential part of the inter-locking pieces that together make up your estate plan.
The Importance of Planning
If you do not have an estate plan (or all the essential pieces of one), then your affairs may well end up in probate court, such as a conservatorship while you are alive, or a probate after you pass away. If you have minor children, then the Court will determine who is to raise them and manage their finances and establish a guardianship for both person and estate. If you do not exercise your rights to create your estate plan, the probate court will select the people who are to manage your affairs for you and the California intestacy laws will determine how your estate is distributed after you die.
Marriage & Divorce
Newlyweds with either financial assets (Properties, Stock Portfolios, and Savings Accounts) or liabilities (Student Loans, Vehicle Loans, Other debt) should establish an Estate Plan immediately to define how those assets are managed in life and after death.
A change in your marital status will require the creation of, or updates to your existing, estate plan. Children, joint-assets, separate or inheritance property, and debt need to considered.
Children are a life-long commitment. While you are thinking about school districts, college funds, and activities, it’s also important to protect your child’s inheritance in-case of an accident to you and your spouse.
An estate plan will define what occurs to your assets and how your child will be cared for in the event of an accident or death.
You’ve just bought your first home or investment property. Congratulations!
Significant assets such as real estate should be protected in a trust to ensure your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes and avoid delays inherent in the probate process.