Estate planning is valuable for every adult, not only for the extremely wealthy or elderly. Planning allows you to clearly communicate and document your end-of-life wishes and to prepare for potential incapacity. While everyone’s situation is different, below are some of the most common estate planning tools:
A Will allows you to identify who should receive your assets (your beneficiaries), to select guardians for your minor children, and to name an executor to ensure your wishes are carried out.
Revocable Living Trusts
A Revocable Living Trust allows you to transfer your assets to your designated beneficiaries while avoiding the probate process. You can amend or revoke a Revocable Living Trust during your lifetime, and you can put assets into or take assets out of the name of the trust at any time.
Advanced Health Care Directive
An Advanced Health Care Directive allows you to select a person or persons (“agent”) to make health care and medical treatment decisions for you if you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself. You can also specify the type of medical treatment you want under specific circumstances (ex. artificial life support, organ donation, tube feeding).
Financial Power of Attorney
A Financial Power of Attorney allows you to select a person or persons (“agent”) to manage your financial or legal affairs if you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself. It not only gives the agent power over your finances but can also include specific directions on how you would want your finances to be handled.
Estate planning is valuable for every adult, not only for the extremely wealthy or elderly.
Planning allows you to clearly communicate and document your end-of-life wishes and to prepare for potential incapacity.
The term “estate” may be intimidating, but it simply means all the property or assets you own at the time of your death, including:
· Real property (ex. homes, vacant land)
· Personal property (ex. cars, jewelry, collections, art)
· Bank accounts
· Securities (ex. stocks, bonds, treasury notes)
· Life insurance policies
· Retirement plans
· Business interests
A well-designed plan protects you and your family during your incapacity and after your death, and can achieve the following:
· Name someone to administer your estate after you die
· Identify who you wish to receive your assets after you die
· Appoint a guardian to care for any minor children
· Avoid the lengthy and costly probate process
· Identify someone to make financial or medical decisions for you in the event that an illness or injury results in your incapacity
· Direct any type of life-prolonging medical care
· Express funeral and other end-of-life wishes, and how related expenses should be paid
· Minimize any applicable taxes
Without planning, the State of California decides who will inherit your assets and if you have minor children, the Court will appoint a guardian. If you become incapacitated, the Court may appoint a Conservator.