In Los Altos Hills, 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 identified 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 truly take on such responsibility.
What Type of Estate Plan Do I Need in Los Altos Hills, California?
Obviously, the answer to this depends on many factors, as well as your goals and preferences. But, 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 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.
If you have a life partner in Los Altos Hills, California, but aren't married to him or her, estate planning is necessary. If you want your partner to have most of the same rights and responsibilities as a spouse, it's typically possible with good estate planning. You should grant your partner power of attorney, so they can make arrangements for you in case you become incapacitated. Moreover, you should name your partner as a beneficiary in your will, because, unlike a spouse, a life partner will not automatically inherit your property if you die without a will.
If you are very old, and have a considerable estate in Los Altos Hills, California, you should definitely come up with an estate plan if you haven't already. Admittedly, this includes confronting some unpleasant and morbid subjects, but it is still very critical. Estate planning is essential if you care at all what happens to your property, and, more importantly, your loved ones, after you die.
Do I Need a Los Altos Hills, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Because estate planning can be a confusing process, the expertise of a good lawyer in Los Altos Hills, California who specializes in wills, trusts, and estates can make the process a great deal easier.