In Winters, 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.
For example, a knowledgeable estate plan will include a living will, which gives your family members and healthcare professionals instructions about your medical care, to be followed in the event you become incapacitated. You should also include your funeral arrangements, and your preference with respect to organ donation.
Perhaps most importantly, 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 Winters, California?
Obviously, this depends on your needs, which you will have to figure out for yourself. Some general considerations in making this decision, however, are your health, age, and the amount of assets involved.
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.
There is one group of unmarried people for whom estate planning in Winters, California is absolutely necessary: 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 various steps to secure these rights, such as granting power of attorney, and writing them into your will.
If you are elderly, and have a considerable amount of assets in Winters, California, estate planning may be more crucial at this stage of your life than any other. While estate planning deals with some morbid and unpleasant subjects (requiring us to confront the reality of our own mortality), it is necessary if you wish to live your life secure in the knowledge that your loved ones will be provided for to the extent that your assets allow.
Do I Need a Winters, California Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning in Winters, California is not always confusing, but it certainly can be. In moderately-sized to large estates, with a substantial number of potential beneficiaries, it is crucial to have the assistance of an estate planning professional.