In Orange 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 will is rarely the only aspect of a comprehensive estate plan. Most persons have quite 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 Orange County, 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 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 Orange 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).
Other groups for whom estate planning is very important in Orange County, California are people who are elderly and/or have a lot of assets. This may be the point in one's life where estate planning is most important. While it's true that the process of making an estate plan requires a person to deal directly with the reality of their own mortality, it is extremely important if you value the security that comes with the knowledge that your family will be provided for.
Do I Need a Orange County, California Estate Planning Attorney?
In Orange County, California, estate planning is rarely simple, even if it's not the most intricate thing in the world. Given the importance of what's at stake (the financial security of your loved ones), a good estate plan is essential, as is the help of an attorney who specializes in wills, trusts, and estates law.