In Oakland, 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 will is rarely the only aspect of a comprehensive estate plan. Most individuals have extremely strong preferences about their end-of-life care, especially when, and under what circumstances, they would want to be taken off life support, if that every happens. These wishes should be made in writing, and discussed with family. Additionally, preferences on organ donation and funeral arrangements should also be made clear.
Perhaps most vitally, your estate plan should make arrangements for the care and custody of your minor children, if you have any. Of course, you should discuss this matter with the person you intend to take custody of the children beforehand, to ensure that they are able and willing to provide proper care.
What Type of Estate Plan Do I Need in Oakland, California?
The answer to this question depends on your individual needs, your priorities, your health, and the size and nature of your estate.
If you are in good health, young, and not married, planning an estate is probably not a high priority. And at this point in your life, it doesn't really have to be, with a few possible exceptions, such as individuals who work in very dangerous jobs, or who are very wealthy.
If you have a life partner in Oakland, 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.
If you are elderly, and have a massive amount of assets in Oakland, California, estate planning may be more critical 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 Oakland, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Because estate planning in Oakland, California is not always simple, the assistance of a brilliant attorney will almost certainly be useful, and worth the cost. This is doubly true because of how crucial the issues involved can be, and the fact that a relatively minor mistake can sometimes derail an entire estate plan.