In South Lake Tahoe, 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.
Most notably, 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 actually take on such responsibility.
What Type of Estate Plan Do I Need in South Lake Tahoe, California?
The answer to this question varies largely on your goals and priorities, as well as your age, health, and the amount of assets you have.
If you are young and unmarried, estate planning likely doesn't need to be on your radar, unless you are very ill, independently wealthy, or perhaps if you work in a very hazardous job, such as the military.
There is one group of unmarried people for whom estate planning in South Lake Tahoe, California is absolutely crucial: adults who are not married, but have a life partner who they'd like to provide for in the event of death. There are many rights that automatically attach with marriage, such as the right to inherit if a spouse dies without a will, the right to make medical decisions for the other spouse if they become incapacitated, etc. If you and your partner are, for whatever reason, unable or unwilling to get married, you will have to take several steps to secure these rights, such as authorizing power of attorney, and writing them into your will.
Individuals who are elderly and/or have a large amount of money in South Lake Tahoe, 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 crucial.
Do I Need a South Lake Tahoe, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning in South Lake Tahoe, California is not always confusing, 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.