couple changing their estate plan

How Often Can I Change My Estate Plan?

California law does not place limits on how often you can change your will and trust instruments. For most people, the opposite problem arises. They may know that they need to update their estate planning documents regularly, but instead, put it off.  Or they may not realize that they need to review and update their documents on a regular basis, especially following significant life changes.

A California estate planning attorney can help you evaluate your circumstances and let you know if you should revise your will or trust documents. Whether your question is how often can I change my will or how often should I change my will, an estate planning attorney can help guide you through your decisions. 

Marriage and Divorce

Getting married creates legal rights and obligations for both spouses. Even if you have a prenuptial agreement, you should review and likely revise your estate plan, to clarify each of your intentions concerning inheritance. Without a legally binding agreement to the contrary, state law may prevent you from disinheriting your spouse, especially with regard to your community property. You do not, however, have to leave everything to your spouse.

When you divorce, you will also need to seek advice concerning your existing estate plan. Family law may set limits on whether or when you may modify your existing estate plan.  But you’ll want to consult with an estate planning attorney to explore your options.  Upon the termination of your marriage, you will likely want to change who gets your assets when you die, and also who will serve as your trustee and executor of your estate.

Also, you will want to take a look at other estate planning documents like your financial power of attorney and your advance health care directive. Few people would want their former spouse handling their money or making their medical decisions if they become incapacitated.

Children

If you already have an estate plan in place, you may want to update it when you and your spouse are about to have a baby. You do not have to wait until the baby is born and you are sleep-deprived to make revisions to your estate planning documents.

They Grow Up So Quickly

One day you may be in the carpool lane waiting to pick up your child from elementary school.  Seemingly the next day, you may look at your adult child and marvel at the adult they have become. At this point, you might want to consider updating your estate plan to make your child your trustee and executor of your estate. The decision may turn on your family’s overall situation.

When Your Loved Ones Struggle

You might want to talk to your estate planning lawyer about how to best protect the inheritance for your loved ones who may have intellectual impairments, mental illness, substance abuse issues, or if you have other concerns about their ability to manage the assets they inherit. 

For example, you may execute a trust agreement that names an independent trustee to oversee distributions to these heirs until they are ready to manage the assets themselves, or perhaps for the rest of their lives. An independent trustee may help a loved one who does not manage money well, who is easily duped, or who has a spouse that may not be trustworthy.  

Protecting Your Friends from Your Family

Sadly, many of us have close relatives who do not care for the people we choose to have in our lives, or who believe they have a better claim to your assets than the friends you choose. Your friends may have no legal rights to your estate unless you create and affirm those rights with effective estate planning instruments that make your intentions clear and enforceable. 

We advise that you talk with a California estate planning attorney about your options for minimizing the damage and circumventing such a relative – to ensure that your chosen beneficiaries receive the gifts you intend for them.

Contact our office today to set up a consultation to discuss your options. 

digital assets

How Digital Estate Planning Can Help Protect You

Traditional estate planning is changing. Instead of merely focusing on tangible property, such as real estate, vehicles and personal property, an estate plan may also include digital assets. Digital assets can have significant value and may be managed solely online. However, because virtual assets can be overlooked, they can be lost. Talk with a California estate planning attorney to ensure that your digital assets are protected after your death.

What Is Digital Estate Planning?

Digital estate planning involves organizing your digital property and assets to ensure these assets are included in your estate. Many people assume that digital assets only include financial accounts. However, your digital assets include all online accounts. Examples of digital assets include:

  • Online bank accounts 
  • PayPal and other online financial accounts
  • Social media accounts
  • Marketplace and e-commerce accounts, such as Amazon, eBay, etc.
  • Loyalty program benefits, including credit card points, frequent flyer miles, etc.
  • Email accounts
  • Ongoing gaming accounts
  • Any accounts used to store personal information, including photographs, documents, etc.
  • Online accounts for utilities, credit cards, and other debts

The funds held in online accounts are not considered digital assets. The account is a digital asset, but the money held in the account is a liquid asset. It is included in the estate as a tangible asset. Cryptocurrency accounts are an example of a digital asset that holds funds that are included in your estate. 

It is essential to create an estate plan that includes your digital assets. The personal representative for your probate estate should control all assets included in your estate for distribution to heirs. However, you also need to appoint a digital executor to manage accounts not passed to heirs through your estate.

What is a Digital Executor?

A digital executor is a person you trust to carry out your wishes regarding your digital assets. This person will have access to all of your online accounts and digital assets. The personal representative for your estate may be your digital executor or you could appoint someone to serve in this role that is different from the person who manages your estate.

Your personal representative will need access to any assets that are included in your estate. Anything of monetary value may be subject to estate taxes and intestate distribution laws.

However, your digital executor is the person you designate to destroy or distribute your digital assets that are not part of your probate estate. Even though a digital executor is not a legally enforceable or binding designation, it can be wise to include this designation in your will, as well as what you desire to happen to your online accounts. 

Tips for Digital Estate Planning

Some tips that can help you protect your digital assets include:

  • Name a digital executor who understands how to access and manage online accounts. 
  • Create and routinely update an inventory of logins and passwords for each account to avoid losing assets.
  • Ensure your digital executor understands your wishes by discussing your wishes with the person and putting your wishes in writing.
  • Keep your inventory and other related items in a secure location that your digital executor can access after your death.

Consulting with an estate planning lawyer is one of the best tips for creating a digital estate plan. An attorney may best understand how each digital account and asset are treated by probate law. Therefore, an attorney can advise you on the best way to handle these assets now and before your death to ensure that your wishes are carried out should something happen to you. 

Contact Our California Estate Planning Attorney for More Information

Creating a digital estate plan protects virtual assets. It also protects your online assets from fraud, hacking, or theft. You also make it easier and less stressful for family members by providing them with a detailed inventory and instructions for your digital assets. 

Call our office to discuss your estate plan with an experienced California estate planning attorney.

estate planning

Estate Planning Checklist

Many people put off estate planning thinking it is something they should do once they get older. What’s worse, some people don’t do any estate planning thinking that it is something that only celebrities or the ultra-rich should do. However, estate planning is not something that you should wait to do, nor should you disregard it altogether.  

Whether you have many or few assets, estate planning helps to organize your finances and shields your family from financial chaos that you may leave behind upon passing. And since you can die at any age, you should opt to get your estate in order as soon as possible. So how do you organize your estate planning in California, and how can an estate planning lawyer help? Below is a checklist of seven critical things that should be a part of your estate planning checklist.  

1. Name Your Beneficiaries

Who do you want to inherit your money in your various accounts or insurance policies if you passed away? Selecting a beneficiary is one of the most critical things you will need to do to prepare your estate.  

2. Draw Up a Will and Advance Health Care Directive

Some people know that they should have a will, but they put it off until it’s too late. However, it is best to have a will written primarily before and after major life-changing events such as divorce. It is also a good idea to have an advance health care directive in place. This will express your intentions about your life if you cannot due to being in a coma or otherwise incapacitated.

3. Have a Living Trust in Place

A living trust is also an important document to have in the state of California. It helps protect your assets and ensure that they remain in your family’s hands.  

4. Assign a Power of Attorney for Health and Finances

What do you want to happen if you are unable to make decisions for yourself? For example, designating a power of attorney for your health and finances is better than having the state of California appoint them for you. 

5. Make Sure Your Insurance Policies are Adequate

Are your insurance policies up to date? The best way to determine this is to look at your debts. Ensure that your insurance policies cover your debts and ensure the livelihood of your beneficiaries should you pass away. This will prevent financial burdens. 

6. Meet with a California Estate Planning Lawyer  

Even if you have all your estate documents in order, it is a good idea to visit with an attorney. Speaking with an attorney will help you discover other critical things you need to secure your estate before passing away.  

7. Ensure Your Family Can Easily Find Critical Documents

Some people work hard to plan their estate.  Then they forget to make the essential documents that they’ve worked so hard to prepare available to loved ones. Placing your documents in a safe or a deposit box that a designated person knows about can minimize confusion during this difficult time. 

Do you live in California and need an attorney to help you with estate planning? An attorney will cover the items on this checklist and more.  For instance, do you need to address any California community property laws that may apply to you? Or do you need to discuss a buy-sell agreement for your California business? Then, contact our law office today so that we can start preparing your personalized estate planning checklist.

beneficiaries in an estate plan

5 Mistakes to Avoid with Respect to Beneficiary Designations

When you decide who will one day receive your assets, you will want to keep some things in mind so that your generosity makes their lives better and does not cause problems for them. Despite your good intentions, failing to take into account certain factors could cause unintended consequences.

Every situation is different, so it can help to talk to a California estate planning attorney about your estate plan. Here are five mistakes to avoid with respect to beneficiary designations:

Not Considering How the Bequest Could Affect the Beneficiary

Giving money or other assets directly to certain individuals could cause more harm than good. For instance, if disabled beneficiaries receive government assistance like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid benefits that provide for their healthcare and other essential goods and services, receiving financial resources could cause them to lose eligibility for those benefits. 

A bequest of even a few thousand dollars could disqualify housing, food, medical care, and income programs. Instead of naming such individuals as direct beneficiaries, you could have the money deposited into a special needs trust that would protect their eligibility for benefits programs.

If some of your intended beneficiaries are minors or others who might find a sudden windfall challenging to manage, you could have their future assets put into a trust for them. People who struggle with substance abuse, mental health issues, gambling, and financial stability can do well with a spendthrift trust that distributes money to them for predetermined items, like housing or other basic living expenses.

Naming Your Estate as the Beneficiary on All of Your Assets 

While it may seem easier to simply designate your estate as the beneficiary of all of your accounts and other assets, it can be a mistake to do so. Some things, like life insurance proceeds, can get to the beneficiaries much faster if the insurer pays the individuals directly rather than having to go through probate.  There may also be tax benefits to naming beneficiaries directly.

Naming Only One Beneficiary and Trusting That Person to Share with the Others

No matter how much you love a close relative, you cannot expect them to share freely with others if you give them everything. Sometimes people will list only one sibling, for example, as the beneficiary of an asset, like a house, with the unwritten assumption that the named beneficiary will sell the asset and split the proceeds with the other siblings. When there is no legal obligation to do that, many beneficiaries will keep everything for themselves and their spouses, if given the option, resulting in unfairness and likely conflict.

Not Updating Your Beneficiary Designations After a Divorce or Death

When one of your beneficiaries dies, you need to update your beneficiary designations and estate planning documents. Otherwise, your heirs may find themselves in a lawsuit to determine what happens to the deceased person’s share. 

Also, you will need to review and update your estate plan and beneficiary designations when you divorce. A divorce may invalidate your existing instruments, and you could die intestate (without a valid will or trust) if you do not make new estate planning documents. 

The divorce will not necessarily change the beneficiary designations on things like life insurance policies and retirement accounts. Forgetting to change these beneficiaries can mean that your former spouse could get an unexpected windfall one day at the expense of your expected heirs.

Not Adding New Beneficiaries When There Is a Marriage, Birth, or Adoption

Finally, you will want to make sure that you update your estate planning documents and beneficiary designations when you get married or after the birth or adoption of a child or grandchild. Overlooking this step could result in some intended heirs getting “disinherited” by oversight. 

A California elder law attorney can review your documents and accounts with you to help you avoid these and other potential beneficiary designation mistakes. Contact us today for more information.

single woman and estate planning

Why Single People Need an Estate Plan

If you have ever heard of estate planning, it has likely been in the context of families or married couples. However, an estate plan is critical for everybody who has assets.  Single people who are considering estate planning should think about contacting a California estate planning attorney. An attorney can help ensure that your wishes are respected and prevent any confusion or disagreements when you die or become incapacitated.

The Importance of an Estate Plan

Many people don’t realize what an estate plan does or why it is necessary unless they’ve run into somebody who doesn’t have a plan. Dying without an estate plan may lead to a lengthy and challenging process for your survivors to administer your estate. Additionally, dying without an estate plan can create friction among your living relatives as they try to determine who should get certain items.

If you do not have an estate plan, all of your assets may  go through a probate court and may be divided based on state law. Typically, this means that a number of your relatives, even ones you aren’t close to or don’t care for, can each lay some claim to assets. This can be especially difficult if you have verbally expressed your wishes, but there is no legal documentation to support your wishes.

However, an estate plan helps avoid these issues and lays out how your assets should be distributed and who your beneficiaries will be. Additionally, if you have minor children when you die, you can identify a guardian for them. This helps to ensure that young children will have time to mature before acquiring significant assets. You should take care when determining the guardian to ensure that he or she will have your children’s best wishes at heart.

Beneficiary Designations

Beneficiary designations help transition many of your financial accounts, such as retirement accounts or life insurance payments, to one or more individuals when you die. Typically, beneficiaries can be set at specific percentages, so you do not have to identify a single individual. This is especially helpful to ensure that accounts may be divided fairly between children or other family members.

It is critical to review and update your beneficiary designations from time to time. If you change who you want to be a beneficiary, you’ll need to change the designated beneficiaries on your accounts.  Your will or trust may not supersede a beneficiary designation. That means that if your will or trust states that you want John to receive the benefits from your account, but the beneficiary designation identifies Mary, Mary may receive those benefits.

Trusts and Taxes

Estate planning can be fraught with nuance and critical decisions. However, one key area that many people are concerned about is having the government tax their assets. Some of these taxes can be very large and exhaust a significant portion of your assets. While paying taxes is inevitable, there are some ways in which you can legally reduce taxes. One of the most common approaches to limit taxes is to execute a trust. You should consult with a California estate planning attorney to see if he or she can help you address your tax concerns by executing a trust.

Moving Forward

Planning for how to have your assets divided can be a complicated process. However, it is easier for you to identify and communicate exactly how you want things handled. If you have been putting off executing your estate plan, call us today and let us walk you through the process.

elderly man in nursing home

Should Your Estate Plan Include A Nursing Home?

Estate planning is not just about passing on your property, it’s also about making sure that you have a plan in place for when you can no longer care for yourself. One of the most important decisions to make during estate planning is whether or not to include providing for a nursing home as part of your plan. The decision varies depending on circumstances like age and health. However, many people are surprised by the high cost of living in a nursing home which can lead to an individual being forced into bankruptcy after years of care.

Our California estate planning attorney breaks down your options in this article.

Will I End Up In a Nursing Home?

According to a study presented at the National Institutes of Health, about 1.5 million older adults live in nursing homes. Does that mean you will too? 

It’s hard to say. 

Do you have existing health issues that might make it difficult or impossible to live on your own? Do you have a family history or critical illnesses that might necessitate you being in the care of professionals later in life? Do you have family and friends that can support you as you continue to age?

These are all questions to ask yourself when you are preparing your estate plan. 

Why?

Because if you fail to plan for a potential nursing home stay, you risk losing your home and your estate to pay for the high cost of nursing home care.

Protecting Your Assets from Nursing Home Costs

The average cost of nursing home care in California is over $9,000 per month, based on the Genworth cost of care calculator. And that’s just an average. In some California cities, costs can be over $12,000 per month.

With a median annual income for seniors at about $23,000 – this can be difficult to afford. So it’s important to plan ahead and protect your assets from these high costs before they happen. 

What type of planning should you do? There are a number of different options available depending on your situation. Consider:

  1. Consider giving gifts to loved ones before you get sick, with the assistance of your attorneys  – if done correctly, this may help protect your assets from creditors. If you anticipate relying on Medicaid, consult with an attorney about making these gifts as soon as possible to avoid the lookback period and risk of asset seizure.
  2. Preparing a Life Estate for your real estate – an attorney can help you transfer your real estate to a trusted loved one and grant you the remainder for your lifetime. Again, be sure to consult with an attorney well in advance of any illness to avoid reversal of this process.
  3. Transfer a portion of your income to your spouse – The Federal Spousal Impoverishment Act protects spouses of nursing home residents by allowing them to exclude their own income from payment calculations. If your spouse’s income is less than the state limit, you may be able to transfer some of your income to your spouse, with the help of an attorney, to avoid losing it.
  4. Consider irrevocable trusts – these options may shield your assets from creditors while allowing you to receive interest and dividend payments without risking your status or assets.

Get Help Protecting Your Assets From Nursing Home Costs

For many people, the cost of living in a nursing home is too high to be sustainable. If you are already thinking about your future and considering whether or not including a provision for long-term care might make sense for your situation, we have some resources that may help you decide what’s best for you. Contact us today.

estate planning attorney

How to Know When It’s Time for an Estate Plan

As long as you are 18 years old, you can and should have an estate plan. If you do not already have these essential documents, when you experience certain life events, you should get these papers. A California estate planning attorney can answer your questions about how to know when it’s time for an estate plan and draft the documents for you.

When You Get Married

Getting married comes with many legal implications. It is always a smart idea to create an estate plan when you get married, even if you have a prenuptial agreement. Getting a will or living trust that talks about the prenuptial agreement can prevent your spouse from trying to ignore the prenuptial agreement and get more money from your estate than you two agreed if you die first.

When You Become a Parent

When you have a child by birth or adoption, you should write an estate plan to protect the child’s right to receive what you wish, whether you pass away when the child is young or is an adult at that time. With every child that you have, you should revise the estate plan. You might think that siblings would automatically share with each other, but often, that does not happen. Be detailed about what each child will receive in assets and personal items.

When You Get a Divorce

Getting a divorce can invalidate your existing estate documents. If you do not have an estate plan, you might think that you do not have to take any action after the divorce, but you should create a new will that makes it clear that your former spouse will not receive anything from your estate. 

Also, you should change the beneficiaries on your life insurance and retirement accounts when you divorce. In addition, you should name other people to act on your behalf on your power of attorney and health care proxy. Most people would not want their ex to serve in those capacities.

When You Receive a Windfall

Let’s say that you win the lottery or inherit a substantial amount of money. Even if you are young, single, and healthy with no children, you should create an estate plan. Otherwise, your relatives will likely fight each other bitterly over who will get the money if you meet an untimely death.

When You Get a Significant Injury or Illness

If you become unable to make or communicate decisions, you will have the assurance of knowing that you got to choose the person who will manage your financial matters and make your health care decisions for you. The only way to accomplish that goal is to have the estate planning documents ahead of time. 

Why Young, Single People with Modest Assets Need an Estate Plan

You might think that you have many decades ahead of you and that life will be relatively carefree, at least for a while. It only takes seconds for a drunk driver or some other sudden catastrophe to turn your life upside down. When a young, healthy person experiences something like that, someone will have to make their medical decisions and manage their finances until they can recover sufficiently to do so for themselves. 

If you do not have the proper estate planning documents, your family will have to go to court and have the judge appoint someone to serve as your guardian for health care and other personal matters, and as your conservator to handle financial matters. Even if your family agrees on who that person should be, it will cost thousands of dollars, take months, and put more stress on them during a difficult time.

A California estate planning attorney can talk with you about the estate planning documents you need to protect you and your loved ones. Contact our office today.

estate planning attorney with client

Estate Planning for the Other 99%

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.

couple estate planning with life insurance

A Guide to Estate Planning With Life Insurance

Life insurance can be a valuable tool to provide financial protection for your loved ones. When you set up your estate plan, do not forget to consider buying life insurance to meet your estate’s essential goals.

You might not have as much money in savings and investments as you would like. 

If you passed away tomorrow, your survivors might struggle to pay off the mortgage, go through college, and pay off the household debts. The monthly premium payments for a life insurance policy could be an inexpensive way to make sure your family will have enough money. A California estate planning attorney can help you incorporate life insurance into your estate plan.

Life Insurance Can Get Money to Your Beneficiaries Quickly

You should have a will or trust to make the transfer of assets and payments of debts go smoothly for your loved ones. These documents are necessary, but it takes about a year or longer for a will to go through probate. Your estate cannot distribute money to your heirs until the creditors get paid, and the judge approves the asset distributions.

Trusts can get administered a little faster, but because the estate has to notify potential creditors and file tax returns, it can take months for a trust to be at the point at which the trustee can legally pay the beneficiaries. If a trustee gives money to the beneficiaries prematurely, the trustee could face personal liability.

If your family relied on your income for some or all of their support, they could face financial hardship having to go for months without that income stream. Life insurance can provide assets to your beneficiaries within a matter of weeks. 

You have to name the individual people as the beneficiaries of the life insurance policy, not your estate. If you leave the “beneficiary” line blank or make your estate the beneficiary, the death benefit will have to go through probate with your will, which defeats the purpose of trying to get assets to your loved ones quickly. When you name specific people to receive the proceeds of the policy, the insurer will send the money to them directly.

You Have More Control Over Who Inherits from You with Life Insurance

Let’s say that you have a dear friend to whom you want to leave some money. If you make the bequest through your will or trust, your legal heirs might contest the distribution. Depending on your family dynamic, life insurance can provide a means to help someone without interference because the proceeds will go directly to that person.

How to Determine How Much Life Insurance You Need

The amount of life insurance a person needs will vary depending on the situation. If you have young children, you might want to buy enough life insurance to get them through high school and pay for college. You might want to leave your spouse secure by getting a policy that could pay off the mortgage and create a retirement nest egg. Some people buy a policy that is equivalent to several years of their gross income. 

A California estate planning attorney can help you calculate how much life insurance you need for a well-funded estate plan. Contact our office today.

woman with parkinson's disease holding hands with nurse

Why an Estate Plan Is Essential If You Have Parkinson’s Disease

After a devastating diagnosis like Parkinson’s disease, you will likely spend some time thinking about your future and how the progressive nervous disorder will impact your life. Although there is no cure yet for Parkinson’s, you might want to manage the things that are within your control. For example, some medications can slow the progress of Parkinson’s disease. 

Talking with a California estate planning attorney can help you exercise some control over your future financial situation and medical decisions. Having a voice on those issues is why an estate plan is essential if you have Parkinson’s disease.

Legal Documents That Can Benefit People Living with Parkinson’s Disease

Many people think of estate planning merely as writing a will or living trust that states how you want your assets distributed after your death. In reality, an estate plan can protect you during your lifetime as well. Here are some documents that can be valuable for people with Parkinson’s disease:

  • Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management. If you become incapacitated from an illness or injury, signing a durable power of attorney ahead of time can give someone the legal authority to handle your bill-paying, bank accounts, investments, and other property for you.
  • Advance Health Care Directive. This document lets you decide who will make your medical decisions if you cannot perform that function or communicate your wishes.
  • Medical Records Authorization. The person who makes your medical decisions needs to have access to your medical records to make informed decisions about your healthcare.

In some situations, it might be appropriate to create additional legal documents to protect you and your loved ones.

How Parkinson’s Disease Can Affect Your Legal Capacity

As the disease worsens, you might develop difficulty expressing your wishes by speaking or writing. Also, you might experience cognitive challenges. The Mayo Clinic says that Parkinson’s can cause slurred speech or other difficulties producing speech that others can understand. 

The illness can also make it hard for you to communicate your wishes in written form due to tremors and other nerve and muscle impairments. In the later stages of Parkinson’s, a person can develop dementia and other cognitive losses.

Depending on the severity of the disease, a judge might decide that the person with Parkinson’s no longer has the legal capacity to act on his own behalf. If that happens, it is too late for you to sign legal documents, like a power of attorney, living trust, or other papers. 

The court may need to appoint someone to serve as your conservator or guardian and make decisions about where you live, what medical care you receive, and day-to-day personal choices. Also, the judge would have to appoint someone to manage your money for you. Although the individuals the court selects might look fine on paper, the appointees might be the last people you would want to make your decisions for you. 

A California estate planning attorney can help you create an estate plan that will let you choose who will take care of you and your assets if you become vulnerable because of Parkinson’s disease or some other illness or injury. An estate plan can also let you decide who will inherit from you one day. Contact us today.