Think about all the ways you try to protect your safety in day-to-day life – wearing a seatbelt when you are driving, making sure that the airbags in your vehicle function properly, having working smoke detectors in your home, and having renters/home insurance. These are just a few of the ways that average people protects themselves from injury, accident, or other unexpected life events. You are prepared for day-to-day emergencies, but are you prepared with someone to make medical decisions if you can not? Or someone who can take over your finances when you are unable to manage them? An estate plan can deal with these issues and more.
What is an Estate Plan?
Before you can have an effective estate plan, it is important to understand what that is. An estate plan is the method by which a person can dictate how his or her estate should be administered after death. It can also include contingencies for what should happen during one’s life should a person be unable to care for him or herself or make important decisions.
The most common part of an estate plan is a will. This is the document executed during one’s lifetime that dictates the way that assets will be distributed after death. The execution of a will has many strict requirements in the state of California. To ensure that it is properly prepared and executed, an estate planning attorney can help you.
While a will is the most commonly thought of estate plan, there are other components. A power of attorney is also part of an estate plan. This is legal documentation giving another individual power of attorney, or the ability to make decisions on behalf of another person. For example, a power of attorney can give another the ability to make financial determinations and health decisions.
How do I Set Up an Estate Plan?
The first step to establishing an effective estate plan is talking to an experienced attorney. An attorney will be able to explain the requirements needed for each element of an estate plan. The preparation of an estate plan begins with a discussion about what you want to happen with your assets following death. Your attorney will make sure that the documents are executed properly and will stand up to scrutiny of the court should there be any challenges.
Why Have an Estate Plan?
When people die without a will or any legal documentation describing what they want to be done following their death, they are leaving those decisions up to the courts. Probate is the process by which the courts will settle a deceased individual’s estate. If the deceased has a will, the court will verify the will and then the terms of the will are followed. Without a will or plan, the court decides how assets will be distributed. Without a will, or estate plan, you are leaving the future of your assets up to the courts. It is important to have an estate plan so that your wishes can be carried out after death.Read More
For most people, planning for their death is not an enjoyable activity. However, we must all come to terms with our mortality and make sure that we put a plan is in place for how our estates will be handled following our death. An estate plan can encompass many different documents and plans. When most individuals think of an estate plan, they think of a last will and testament. Is a will enough to protect your assets and save your family from struggling to deal with your assets? It might not be.
While a will can cover many assets and account for potential problems that might arise, there is no way to guarantee that it will cover any and all contingencies. This is not to say that a will is not beneficial. For any California resident, having a will in place is a great start to their estate planning process. A will can not be ignored. It is essential to include a will in your estate plan because it includes a lot of important information about your wishes after death.
Wills in California
A will is a legal document that outlines the way you would like your assets to be dispersed following your death. It provides written directions for the handling of your estate and provides a step-by-step process for your loved ones. Additionally, a will can include any final words that you wish to tell your loved ones. While the will provides the basic directions, there are additional documents that are needed to complete an estate plan.
Additional Estate Planning Documents
A will provides for the distribution of assets, but it does not provide for incapacitation or consider tax implications or benefits. Therefore, additional documents are necessary to complete you estate plan. There needs to be a plan in place in the event that you are suddenly unable to care for yourself. The following are additional documentation that should be included in an estate plan:
- Healthcare power of attorney: This is a legal document that names a person who will be responsible for your medical care in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. This saves time and confusion during medical emergencies so that there is no delay in life saving decision making.
- Financial power of attorney: Similarly to a healthcare power of attorney, the financial power of attorney names a person to take over your financial decision-making when you are unable to.
- Healthcare Directive: A healthcare directive states what you wish to be done if you are incapacitated in the hospital. This is different than the power of attorney. This is prepared by you to dictate whether you want to be resuscitated, how long you want CPR to be performed, and etc.
The estate planning attorney at the Law Office of Kris Mukherji is here to help you create your estate plan. We want to help you create a complete estate plan to give you the reassurance that your affairs will be handled as you wish following your death. Do not wait on this important documentation and planning; contact us today.Read More