You might think that only incredibly wealthy people need to prepare an estate plan, but the rest of us who are not the richest 1% also need to protect ourselves and our loved ones. You do not have to spend a fortune getting the right estate plan for your situation.
Basic legal documents can give you peace of mind in knowing that you and your family have safeguards in place. A California estate planning attorney can help you craft your documents and answer your questions about estate planning for the other 99%.
How to Prevent Intestacy
If you die without a will or living trust, your estate will be intestate. These estates follow a different set of rules than those with a valid will or trust. California law will dictate what happens to your assets. The people you want to inherit from you could get nothing. In rare situations, your things could end up going to the state.
Having even a simple will can prevent this outcome. You need to designate someone to serve as the executor of the will and manage the estate through the probate process.
If you want to have more options than a will cannot provide, a living trust could be the answer. For example, if you have young children, you can have their assets held in trust until they are old enough to handle them. You could have some money go to them at age 21 or when they graduate from college, and the rest of the money at 25 or 30 years of age.
A trust can provide more privacy than a will because trusts usually do not get filed with the court. Wills are public documents when they get filed in the probate court.
A Safety Net During Your Lifetime
A power of attorney is a common estate planning document that can give you financial and medical protection while you are alive. People often think of estate planning as something that only gets used after a person dies, but there are several papers that could make your life much better in certain circumstances.
The two main types of powers of attorney are financial and medical. In a durable power of attorney for financial matters, you can name someone to step up and handle your money and business if you become incapacitated.
These documents can serve other functions as well. For example, if you have to be out of town on the day of the closing when buying a house, you can get a power of attorney that gives someone the legal authority to sign the closing papers on your behalf.
A medical power of attorney, commonly known in California as an advance health care directive, lets you decide who gets to make your healthcare decisions if you cannot do so or communicate your choices. Let’s say that a person is in a medically induced coma for a few days after a car crash. An advance health care directive means that your family will not have to go to court to have someone appointed to perform this task.
How to Fund Your Family’s Future
Life insurance can be a low-cost way to provide funds for your family if they outlive you. Be sure to name the actual person as the beneficiary instead of your estate to get the money to them within a matter of weeks instead of many months or longer.
A California estate planning attorney can talk with you about a sensible estate plan for your needs and goals. Contact our office today.