Every adult living here in California could benefit from an estate plan. No one can tell the future, and few people expect a debilitating or deadly illness or injury to happen. Under these circumstances, it would be a good idea for you to consider creating an estate plan as well.
Many people procrastinate when it comes to completing this task for a variety of reasons. Two of the most common include not wanting to contemplate their own deaths, and because it's complicated and time consuming. Even as uncomfortable as it may be, creating an estate plan doesn't have to be complicated.
Someone has to do it
If you fail to create an estate plan outlining what happens to your property after you pass away, that task falls to the family members who survive you. In fact, the state of California will determine who inherits your property, but your loved ones will have to do the work to make it happen, and the courts would decide who cares for any minor children you may have at the time of your death.
The steps you take now can save them time, money and frustration during a time when they should be able to focus on their grief. In order to spare them, you could follow these steps:
- Decide whom you would trust to handle the administration of your estate.
- Decide whom you would want to take on the guardianship of your minor children.
- Take an inventory of your property and decide whom you would like to inherit what.
- Now, you can create a will that reflects your decisions and wishes.
- Decide whom you would trust to handle your finances and make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
- Now, you can create powers of attorney. When it comes to your finances, you can grant as much or as little power as you wish to your agent or attorney-in-fact. You may also stipulate that your powers of attorney do not become effective until a doctor certifies your incapacitation.
- Decide what end-of-life medical intervention you do and don't want.
- Now, you can create a living will, also called an advance directive, to let everyone know your wishes.
You may find it best to express your wishes and goals by using a trust. This document keeps the assets contained in it from going through probate, which provides your beneficiaries with immediate access after your death instead of waiting for a distribution through probate.
Someone can help you
Knowing how to best express your wishes for what happens if you become incapacitated or die may not always be easy to figure out. Fortunately, you can make use of local legal resources to help ensure that you create an estate plan that accomplishes your goals and makes administering your estate as easy as possible on those you love when the time comes.