In Santa Maria, 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 include 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 assistance 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. Nonetheless, 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, particularly 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. Furthermore, 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 Santa Maria, California?
The answer to this question varies on your individual needs, your priorities, your health, and the size and nature of your estate.
For example, if you're unmarried, and in your early 20's, estate planning is probably not the most critical thing in your life. However, if you're seriously ill, and/or unusually wealthy, estate planning might be a priority for you.
If you are unmarried, but have a life partner in Santa Maria, 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 case, the estate plan should make arrangements to give your life partner power of attorney in case you become incapacitated. Your will should also precisely include your partner (if you wish for them to inherit any of your assets).
There is another large group of people who would benefit from having a good Santa Maria, California estate plan: the elderly and those with a lot of money really need to consider making a comprehensive estate plan as soon as possible. While this necessarily involves facing some uncomfortable realities, it is critical and unavoidable.
Do I Need a Santa Maria, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Because estate planning in Santa Maria, California is not always simple, the assistance of a reputable attorney will almost certainly be useful, and worth the cost. This is doubly true because of how critical the issues involved can be, and the fact that a relatively minor mistake can sometimes derail an entire estate plan.