In Los Angeles, 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 Los Angeles, 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 Angeles, California, but aren't married to him or her, estate planning is essential. If you want your partner to have most of the same rights and responsibilities as a spouse, it's normally possible with good estate planning. You should grant your partner power of attorney, so they can make choices for you in case you become incapacitated. Additionally, 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.
Individuals who are elderly and/or have a massive amount of money in Los Angeles, California are probably more in need of an estate plan than almost anyone else. Most people place a lot of value in the peace of mind that comes when they know that the people they love, or the causes they care about, will be taken care of after their death. Of course, nobody likes to confront the facts that this process always contains, but it's imperative.
Do I Need a Los Angeles, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Because estate planning in Los Angeles, California can involve some difficult legal and financial issues, it is essential to undertake this task with the guidance of an experienced attorney who specializes in estate planning.