In Stockton, 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 Stockton, 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.
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 have a life partner in Stockton, 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.
Other groups for whom estate planning is very critical in Stockton, California are people who are elderly and/or have a lot of assets. This may be the time in one's life where estate planning is most critical. 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 very important if you value the security that comes with the knowledge that your family will be provided for.
Do I Need a Stockton, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Because estate planning can be a perplexing process, the expertise of a good lawyer in Stockton, California who specializes in wills, trusts, and estates can make the process a great deal easier.