In Lafayette, 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 known as a "living will." It should also include instructions about funeral arrangements and organ donation.
Most notably, 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 actually take on such responsibility.
What Type of Estate Plan Do I Need in Lafayette, California?
This usually depends on your individual goals and priorities, your age, health, and the nature and quantity of your assets.
For example, if you're unmarried, and in your early 20's, estate planning is probably not the most necessary thing in your life. However, if you're seriously ill, and/or unusually wealthy, estate planning might be a priority for you.
If you are unmarried, but have a life partner in Lafayette, 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 case, the estate plan should make arrangements to give your life partner power of attorney in case you become incapacitated. Your will should also precisely 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 Lafayette, 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 necessary and unavoidable.
Do I Need a Lafayette, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Because estate planning can be a perplexing process, the expertise of a good lawyer in Lafayette, California who specializes in wills, trusts, and estates can make the process a great deal easier.