In California, estate planning refers to the process of deciding what should be done with one's assets after their death.
Estate planning typically requires the advice of a legal and/or financial expert, because the issues involved can be confusing, and are considered by most to be extremely important. A flawed estate plan might create conflict between your survivors, resulting in your intentions not being given effect.
In the process of estate planning, you'll probably also deal with issues that can affect you during life. These include issues like power of attorney (to ensure that your wishes are carried out even if you're unable to express them), as well as instructions to your doctors and family concerning medical care. A brilliant estate planner can also help you achieve your goals, while minimizing the effects of expenses like court fees and taxes.
A brilliant estate planner in California, can make this process much easier, minimizing the chances that your estate plan will end up in court, saving your survivors a huge amount of time and money.
Common Features of California Estates
Will: This is normally a major component in any estate plan. A will is a document in which a person lays out what they want done with their property after their death. These gifts normally have the effect of transferring legal ownership of the property to the named beneficiary.
Living Will: Unlike ordinary wills, a living will contains instructions concerning a person's medical care. Some recent high-profile controversies have illustrated the importance of making a living will, even for younger people. In a living will, you can give your family members and doctors instructions about your desired medical care, in case you become incapacitated (comatose or brain-dead, for example) and can't tell them yourself. Some people say that they would not want to be kept alive by artificial means if they are in a vegetative state, and there's no chance of recovery. If this is you, that's definitely something to include in a living will. Of course, if you would prefer the opposite, being kept alive as long as is medically allowed, you can put that in your living will, as well.
Power of Attorney: Power of attorney allows you to grant someone else (normally a trusted family member or friend) the power to make certain decisions in your place, with the same legal effect as if you had made them yourself, in the event that you become unable to do so (normally due to mental or physical incapacity). If you decide to give someone power of attorney, you should make your wishes known to them in advance, so they are more likely to make the same decisions that you would make, if you were able to. And, of course, you should only give this authority to someone with whom you would trust your life because that is, in some cases, just what you're doing.
Funeral Arrangements: Whatever your preference on this matter (if you have a preference) you should make it known to your family both verbally and in writing. If you have very specific wishes concerning the final disposition of your mortal remains, you should not put those instructions in your will. Or, if you do, you should also put them somewhere else. Wills are usually not read for quite some time after a person dies, and the funeral is normally long over by then, so it will be too late to follow your instructions.
Do I Need a California Estates Lawyer?
A brilliant estates lawyer in California can make the estate planning process much easier. He or she can maximize the chances of your wishes being given effect. Additionally, a good and clear estate plan is far less likely to result in litigation in the future, since disputes of this nature are almost always the result of ambiguity.