In San Francisco, 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 people have very 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.
If you have young children, it is absolutely crucial that you make arrangements for their care, as well as their custody. Obviously, if you want someone specific to take custody of them in the event something happens, you need to discuss the matter with them, to ensure that they are actually able and willing to care for them.
What Type of Estate Plan Do I Need in San Francisco, California?
The answer to this question depends on your individual needs, your priorities, your health, and the size and nature of your estate.
For example, if you are in your 20's and unmarried, an estate plan probably does not need to be on your priorities, unless you are very ill, or independently wealthy.
If you have a life partner in San Francisco, California, but aren't married to him or her, estate planning is crucial. If you want your partner to have most of the same rights and responsibilities as a spouse, it's usually possible with good estate planning. You should grant your partner power of attorney, so they can make decisions for you in case you become incapacitated. Furthermore, 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 large amount of money in San Francisco, 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 involves, but it's essential.
Do I Need a San Francisco, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning in San Francisco, California is not always convoluted, but it certainly can be. In moderately-sized to large estates, with a significant number of potential beneficiaries, it is crucial to have the assistance of an estate planning professional.