In Hercules, 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.
Most especially, an estate plan should give instructions on the care of your minor children. It should lay out who is to take custody of them, and, if possible, leave them a large sum of money to assist with this care. Of course, you should discuss this matter with the people who you want to take custody of your children, to make sure they can really take on such responsibility.
What Type of Estate Plan Do I Need in Hercules, California?
The answer to this question varies largely on your goals and priorities, as well as your age, health, and the amount of assets you have.
If you are in good health, young, and not married, planning an estate is likely not a high priority. And at this time in your life, it doesn't really have to be, with a few possible exceptions, such as individuals who work in very hazardous jobs, or who are very wealthy.
There is one group of unmarried people for whom estate planning in Hercules, California is absolutely essential: adults who are not married, but have a life partner who they'd like to provide for in the event of death. There are many rights that automatically attach with marriage, such as the right to inherit if a spouse dies without a will, the right to make medical decisions for the other spouse if they become incapacitated, etc. If you and your partner are, for whatever reason, unable or unwilling to get married, you will have to take many steps to secure these rights, such as authorizing power of attorney, and writing them into your will.
There is another massive group of people who would benefit from having a good Hercules, 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 contains facing some uncomfortable realities, it is crucial and unavoidable.
Do I Need a Hercules, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning in Hercules, California is not always confusing, but it certainly can be. In moderately-sized to large estates, with a considerable number of potential beneficiaries, it is crucial to have the assistance of an estate planning professional.