CA Estate Planning Blog

Monday, August 21, 2017

Estate Planning is Not Just for the Wealthy

Why is it important for everyone to have an estate plan?

There is a common misconception that estate planning is a concern of only the wealthy.  To the contrary, an estate plan has everything to do with providing security for you and your family, and little to do with wealth.  With your estate plan, you will enable someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable and to carry out your last wishes upon your death.  We all need a plan in place to ensure our loved ones are cared for if we die.  A basic estate plan is affordable for everyone and vital to the wellbeing of your family, regardless of your income level.  

Estate Planning Essentials

No matter your income level or the extent of your assets, you should have the following estate plans in place:

Powers of Attorney

If you become incapacitated, you will want your chosen loved one to be able to make vital financial and healthcare decisions.  With a General Durable Power of Attorney, you can select an agent to make financial decisions if you are unable.  A Health Care Power of Attorney allows your named agent to make health care decisions for you, which may include end of life care.  Without these documents in place, your loved ones could be stuck without authority to act on your behalf.

Will or Revocable Living Trust

All of us need a will or revocable trust that clearly sets out our last wishes.  With a will, you can name who you want to receive your assets when you die.  You can also nominate a guardian for your minor child.  While a will can be a great estate planning tool, it must go through probate, which can be costly and time consuming.  A revocable trust allows you to accomplish the same important goals as a will, with the added benefits of not needing to go through probate and keeping your affairs private.  

Why You Need an Estate Plan Today

Without an estate plan in place, a California court will be forced to distribute your assets to your closest relatives, as dictated by state law.  Your assets could go to family members that you would not have chosen, and could leave out those you care about.  Even further, the court might be forced to select a guardian for your minor child if you do not have a will outlining your preferences on this critical matter.  Do not leave your legacy in the hands of laws and third parties.  Take action today to protect your loved ones by making a basic estate plan.  

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