CA Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Estate Plan

What is the greatest gift you can give your family this Holiday Season?

Peace of mind.  Getting your Estate Plan in order is not always at the top of everyone’s to do list, but it should be.  With the proper legal documents in place, you can help ease the difficulties that your loved ones will face upon your incapacity or passing.  Your assets can be managed by someone you trust.  Your children can be cared for by someone you know will treat them well.   Your money will be available for your loved ones when they need it and will be easily accessible.  In short, you will provide security and stability for those you care about most when they are dealing with a great loss.

Here are some of the common issues and questions we encounter:

I don’t want to consider something bad happening to me.

You don’t think about getting into a car accident every day, but you buy auto insurance just in case.  Planning for issues that might arise doesn’t make bad things happen, it mitigates the damage when they do.   If your Estate Plan is complete then you don’t have to continue to focus on it and expend energy needlessly.  It becomes the equivalent of auto insurance and when life changes or new drivers are added you might have to review your policy and make adjustments but you will be protected in the meantime.     

Why do I need an Estate Plan?

Generally speaking, if you have assets in excess of $150,000 or have young children, you need an Estate Plan to avoid the Probate process.   In the absence of valid legal Estate Planning documents your loved ones will have to petition the Probate Court to determine what will happen to your assets or your children.  The Probate process can be difficult, overwhelming, costly and lengthy.  

What does an Estate Plan include?

Living Trust – a legal document that directs your successor Trustee to carry out your wishes with regard to your finances, your children, your health and your legal affairs.  The power of a Trust is that it allows your assets to pass directly to your beneficiaries without going through Probate.

Pour Over Will – allows a decedent’s nominal assets to be included in their Trust.

Healthcare Directive – allows you to appoint someone to decide about your medical treatment if you cannot decide for yourself and gives them parameters regarding your wishes.

Durable Power of Attorney – allows you to name an agent to act on your behalf and carry out your financial affairs.

How do I go about doing my Estate Plan?

Sometimes tasks seem more daunting than they really are because we don’t know what is involved in the process or where to begin.  Getting your Estate Plan in order is simple.  Consider the ages of your children, think about what you would want to happen to them if something happened to you tomorrow, or 10 years from now.  Determine who you would want to act in your stead, with regard to your finances and your healthcare.  Take stock of your assets: homes, cars, boats, IRA’s, 401k’s, Life Insurance, etc., and decide how you would want them divided.  Consider what quality of life you would want if something happened to you. 

How do I get started?

Contact our office, make an appointment for a consultation and give the gift of peace of mind to your family this Holiday Season.

 

Happy Holidays from all of us!


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