In Madera 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 encompass 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 help 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. However, it is rarely the only part of a solid estate plan.
A solid estate plan will also include 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 importantly, 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 Madera County, California?
Obviously, the answer to this depends on many factors, as well as your goals and preferences. However, most people, when deciding what type of estate plan they need, consider their health, age, and wealth.
If you are young and unmarried, estate planning probably doesn't need to be on your radar, unless you are very ill, independently wealthy, or perhaps if you work in a very dangerous job, such as the military.
If you are unmarried, but have a life partner in Madera County, 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 situation, the estate plan should make arrangements to give your life partner power of attorney in case you become incapacitated. Your will should also clearly include your partner (if you wish for them to inherit any of your assets).
Individuals who are elderly and/or have a considerable amount of money in Madera County, 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 includes, but it's necessary.
Do I Need a Madera County, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Because estate planning in Madera County, California is not always simple, the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney will almost certainly be useful, and worth the cost. This is doubly true because of how important the issues involved can be, and the fact that a relatively minor mistake can sometimes derail an entire estate plan.