Have you done your spring cleaning? If you did, did you find any old Trusts, Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney that haven't been looked at since Friends was on the air? If that's the case or if you haven't done your estate planning at all, it may be time to clean up your estate plan whether you are married, single or in a same sex relationship.
Q: Why should a person's estate plan be updated from time to time?
A: Laws change, your assets change, your situation changes. What was right in 1995, may not work at all today. Let's say you name your spouse then your mother as your Executor because your kids are minors at the time. Now, your mother may be deceased and there is no successor executor. Worse, what if you have named your brother as the beneficiary of your estate when you didn't have kids and now he inherits the whole estate. Just like we update other parts of our lives, we need to update our Wills.
Q: What if I don't have a Will? Won't everything end up with my next of kin anyway?
A: California law does provide that your nearest next of kin inherit, but without a properly drafted Will (or Trust if your estate is greater then $150,000), it may take longer and be harder for them to inherit because the administrator (similar to an executor, but an executor has to be nominated by a Will) will have to ask the court's permission before handling a number of things -such as selling the home. To avoid probate all together we recommend a trust to dispose of your assets.
Q: Is it just my Will I need to think about?
A: No. The Will handles your estate when you die, but estate planning refers to more than just death. As mentioned previously, you can avoid probate if you have a will. What happens if you become incompetent and cannot make medical decisions or pay your bills? That's where a Durable Financial Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive come in. The Durable Financial Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust to handle your finances. An Advance Health Care Directive allows you to appoint someone to make medical decisions if you can't. No matter how long you have lived together, without these documents if you are incompetent, someone may need to go to court to become guardian to handle your financial and health care decisions.
Your Estate Planning is important. But there is no one size fits all. You should sit down with your attorney to discuss what you need to handle your situation.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
Reference: Solomon, Steiner & Peck, Ltd. All rights reserved.