In Contra Costa County, 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 include 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 assistance 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. Nonetheless, it is rarely the only part of a solid estate plan.
A clear estate plan will also contain instructions to your doctors about your preferences for end of life care, in case you become unable to express them. This is recognized as a "living will." It should also include instructions about funeral arrangements and organ donation.
Perhaps most especially, 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 Contra Costa County, California?
The answer to this question varies on your individual needs, your priorities, your health, and the size and nature of your estate.
For example, if you're unmarried, and in your early 20's, estate planning is probably not the most crucial thing in your life. However, if you're seriously ill, and/or unusually wealthy, estate planning might be a priority for you.
If you're not married in Contra Costa County, California, but have a life partner, estate planning is necessary. If you want your partner to be treated as your spouse, your estate plan should make arrangements to give him or her power of attorney in the event that you become incapacitated. Furthermore, your will should precisely name your partner as a beneficiary, if you want them to inherit any of your assets.
If you are elderly, and have a massive amount of assets in Contra Costa County, California, estate planning may be more crucial at this stage of your life than any other. While estate planning deals with some morbid and unpleasant subjects (requiring us to confront the reality of our own mortality), it is essential if you wish to live your life secure in the knowledge that your loved ones will be provided for to the extent that your assets allow.
Do I Need a Contra Costa County, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Because estate planning in Contra Costa County, California is not always simple, the assistance of a seasoned attorney will almost certainly be useful, and worth the cost. This is doubly true because of how critical the issues involved can be, and the fact that a relatively minor mistake can sometimes derail an entire estate plan.