In Malibu, 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 recognized as a "living will." It should also include instructions about funeral arrangements and organ donation.
Most vitally, 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 Malibu, 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're not married in Malibu, California, but have a life partner, estate planning is necessary. If you want your partner to be treated as your spouse, your estate plan should make arrangements to give him or her power of attorney in the event that you become incapacitated. Additionally, your will should clearly name your partner as a beneficiary, if you want them to inherit any of your assets.
If you are elderly, and have a massive amount of assets in Malibu, California, estate planning may be more important at this stage of your life than any other. While estate planning deals with some morbid and unpleasant subjects (requiring us to confront the reality of our own mortality), it is essential if you wish to live your life secure in the knowledge that your loved ones will be provided for to the extent that your assets allow.
Do I Need a Malibu, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Because estate planning can be a convoluted process, the expertise of a good lawyer in Malibu, California who specializes in wills, trusts, and estates can make the process a great deal easier.