Estate Planning

– Areas of Specialization

Estate planning is the process of arranging for the accumulation, conservation, and distribution of the property and responsibilities of an individual both during his/her lifetime and after his/her death. Estate planning involves making the most effective disposition of a person’s wealth and interests consistent with his/her goals and values. There are no magic numbers or hard rules in estate planning, as estate planning is not a stagnant process. Estate planning advice changes as a person’s individual circumstances and goals change.

Wills

A basic will can suit the estate planning needs of many people. A will can be used to name a personal representative to administer the estate, leave property to others and leave final instructions. Even if someone wants the benefit of a revocable living trust, he/she would still need a will as the trust cannot address all estate planning issues. For example, a will is necessary because not all of a person’s property is placed in the revocable living trust. Wills are also necessary, in addition to the trust, to name an executor, guardian, and provide information on funeral or burial instructions. 

Revocable Living Trusts

A revocable living trust (also called a “living trust”) is a common estate-planning device in California. A living trust is created during a person’s lifetime and funded with various assets. Living trusts are a wonderful way to pass property and still avoid probate. They are also used for incapacity planning. 

A complex estate plan may include various irrevocable trusts. Irrevocable trusts are most commonly used for tax-saving and asset protection purposes.

Durable Powers of Attorney for Property Management

The third piece of a basic estate plan is a durable power of attorney for property management. A durable power of attorney for property management authorizes someone to act for a person with respect to property issues in the event the person becomes incapacitated. 

Advance Health Care Directives

The final piece of a basic estate plan is an advanced health care directive. An advanced health care directive authorizes someone to act for a person with respect to health care issues in the event the person becomes incapacitated. It can also instruct the person on specific medical instructions. 

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