In Burlingame, California, "estate planning" refers to the process by which a person makes arrangements related to their property after their death. It can (and should) also encompass personal issues that might come up immediately before and after a person's death.
One of the first things an estate planner will ask you about when you come to them for help is what you want to put in your will. A will is a document which says who is going to get your property after your death. Once it is proven valid, a will is binding, meaning that the beneficiaries get legal ownership of whatever is left to them. Obviously, if you have any interest in what is done with your property after you die, a will is going to be at the center of your estate plan. However, it is rarely the only part of a solid estate plan.
A solid estate plan will also include instructions to your doctors about your preferences for end of life care, in case you become unable to express them. This is known as a "living will." It should also include instructions about funeral arrangements and organ donation.
Perhaps most vitally, your estate plan should make arrangements for the care and custody of your minor children, if you have any. Of course, you should discuss this matter with the person you intend to take custody of the children beforehand, to ensure that they are able and willing to provide proper care.
What Type of Estate Plan Do I Need in Burlingame, California?
Obviously, the answer to this depends on many factors, as well as your goals and preferences. However, most people, when deciding what type of estate plan they need, consider their health, age, and wealth.
If you are in good health, young, and not married, planning an estate is probably not a high priority. And at this point in your life, it doesn't really have to be, with a few possible exceptions, such as individuals who work in very dangerous jobs, or who are very wealthy.
If you are unmarried, but have a life partner in Burlingame, California, estate planning is crucial, if you wish for your life partner to be treated as if he or she were your spouse (to the extent possible). In such a situation, the estate plan should make arrangements to give your life partner power of attorney in case you become incapacitated. Your will should also clearly include your partner (if you wish for them to inherit any of your assets).
There is another large group of people who would benefit from having a good Burlingame, California estate plan: the elderly and those with a lot of money really need to consider making a comprehensive estate plan as soon as possible. While this necessarily involves facing some uncomfortable realities, it is essential and unavoidable.
Do I Need a Burlingame, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Because estate planning can be a complicated process, the expertise of a good lawyer in Burlingame, California who specializes in wills, trusts, and estates can make the process a great deal easier.