Estate planning is an important part of being prepared for life. This is true for everyone, even those who are young and "just starting out." Few people want to think about what it will be like if the unexpected should happen, but being prepared can protect your loved ones' futures.
There are estate planning documents that every person and family should have in place, and with an experienced California estate planning attorney making sure you have what you need, you can rest assured that your assets and your family's future are protected.
Do I Need Estate Planning in California?
Every person and family needs to be prepared for the future. Many people mistakenly believe that estate planning only includes making a will, but it is so much more. It includes decisions about end of life care, how property is divided, how debts are paid, and how children are cared for.
As you can see, estate planning is planning for all stages of your life. As implied, even young families need to be prepared. Many young families do not have as much in the way of assets as older families may have, but estate planning is still important. For instance, decisions like caring for young children can be handled with a proper estate plan.
California Estate Planning Services
A variety of estate planning services are available through the Law Office of Lauren Rios.
Virtual Estate Planning
With a busy schedule, planning for your future may still be on the "to do" list. With virtual estate planning, you can communicate your needs and the details of your estate online through our secure services. You can plan for your family's future from the comfort of your own home.
A will is a legal document that states your final wishes upon your death. It can include information such as:
- How assets should be distributed;
- How debts should be paid;
- Child care and custody considerations;
- Provide for pets; and
- Name an executor for the estate.
A trust is a fiduciary agreement that allows a trustee to hold assets for the benefit of certain beneficiaries. Trusts are very similar to wills in that they provide for how assets will be distributed upon your death, how debts will be paid, how spouses, children, and pets will be cared for, but they also serve additional purposes, including:
- Controlling your wealth towards a specific purpose;
- Avoiding probate and certain costs associated with it; and
- Protecting the future of a certain person (such as a spouse or child).
There are many different kinds of trusts, and an experienced estate planning attorney will help you know what is right for you.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document which allows you to appoint a person or other fiduciary to manage your affairs in case you are unable to do so. Unlike the successor trustee who handles trust affairs, your agent under your power of attorney will handle non-trust affairs. Your agent will handle the day-to-day operations (e.g., contacting PG&E to discuss a recent bill). Your agent's powers may include powers for:
- Legal decisions; and
- Financial decisions and property management.
These documents are flexible in that you can give your agent as much power or as little power as you want. Your power of attorney can be created to fulfill the specific needs of you and your family.
Health Care Directives
California law provides for the use of health care directives, which are legal documents setting forth instructions on how your health care should be handled in case you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to make those decisions for yourself. These are similar to what many call "living wills."
These directives allow you to:
- Appoint a health care agent, a person legally entitled to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself; and
- Set forth instructions for your health care that your appointed health care agent will carry out in the event you cannot make those decisions for yourself. Your health care directive will contain your preferences concerning your personal care and end-of-life treatment and instructions concerning organ donation, disposition of remains, funeral arrangements.
Managing your estate after your death can be complicated and is often best left in the hands of an experienced attorney. After a person's death, debts must be paid, assets distributed, and final accounts closed.
The person who administers the estate must follow the instructions provided for in the estate planning documents and, if necessary, file appropriate paperwork in the California court system.
Consult a California Estate Planning Attorney
Planning for your family's future is critical to their future well-being and the protection of assets you earned and acquired throughout your life. Attorney Lauren Rios has years of legal experience and will put that experience to work for you.
She represents clients throughout the Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. Contact us today.