Estate planning is something that people do not like to think about, but it is necessary. It is much better to prepare now than to leave your loved ones to deal with issues when you cannot.
If you don’t know where to start or what estate planning is, then our attorneys at Huber Law Group, A.P.C. can help. We have vast experience in this area of California law and can assist you in figuring out what type of estate planning you need. Let us guide you through the process and enable you to gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have everything in order for your family’s future.
Reasons To Create an Estate Plan
One of the most important things to know about estate planning is that it is beneficial both during your life and after your death. This is something that many people do not realize, and it often leads to people thinking they don’t need to plan ahead.
Having an estate plan does allow you to have control over what happens after your death with your assets. It also can prevent arguments among family over inheritances, and it gives you a chance to safeguard your minor children’s future.
Beyond that, it also allows you to retain control over what happens if you were to become incapacitated. You can put orders in place for someone to handle your financial business and give instructions about what you want to happen with your health and who should make those decisions.
It can enable you to keep a business running if you cannot do it or if you pass away. An estate planning attorney can also craft your plan to help reduce taxation on both you and your heirs.
An estate plan can provide clarity in a situation when you cannot do so yourself. It makes it easier for your loved ones and helps to ensure important questions do not go unanswered. You can work with an Elk Grove estate planning lawyer to customize an estate plan that works for your situation.
Do You Need a Plan?
Almost everyone over the age of 18 should have some type of estate plan. You don’t even need to own assets to need one since it also covers health decisions and issues that could occur when you are still alive.
If you have minor children, then you definitely need one. Your plan is your chance to say who should take over the guardianship of your children if you were to die. This is especially important if you are a single parent and the other parent is not in your children’s lives.
Elements of an Estate Plan
There are many documents that can make up an estate plan. Everything from your life insurance policy to detailed legal documents can be a part of your plan. However, three of the basic components that typically make up most estate plans are:
- Powers of attorney
A will is a legal document that states your wishes about what you want to happen after your death. It typically will outline the distribution of your assets and may also cover other details, such as naming guardians for your children or setting up care instructions for your pet.
To be legally valid and enforceable in California, a will must have your signature and date written in your handwriting. It also must have the signatures of two witnesses who swear you signed the will. The witnesses must not be beneficiaries named in the document.
It is possible to handwrite your will completely, which is a holographic will. It must also have your signature and date. You do not need witness signatures for this type of will, but the court may require proof that you did indeed write it to validate it after your death.
For any type of will, you must be at least 18 years old to create it. You also have to write the will and make the decisions of your own free will. It is also important that you have the mental capacity to understand the document and its legal impact.
It is possible for someone to contest your will during probate after your death. To contest a will, a person must have evidence to prove there is something legally unsound with the document. The grounds for contesting include:
- Undue influence
- Lacked capacity
- Another valid will
You can revoke your will and declare it void at any time. To do so, you can either physically destroy the document or create a new will that states all previous documents are invalid.
A trust is an agreement that mandates the distribution of your assets. It must have four elements to be valid:
- Trustor – the person creating it
- Trustee – the person in charge of managing and distributing assets
- Beneficiary – the person receiving the assets
- Property – the assets in the trust
You can create rules to oversee the distribution of assets. Any type of property may go into a trust.
Trusts can be revocable, which means you can change them at any time and you retain ownership and control over the assets. Trust can also be irrevocable, which means you cannot change it without permission from the beneficiary and the trustee takes control over the assets immediately.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney gives another person the right to make decisions on your behalf. While you can create one for any situation, even something temporary, the most common options are financial and health.
A financial power of attorney will use the general POA form available in California. It may be broad, which grants powers to make all decisions except healthcare, or limited, which means you define the exact situations and decisions in which the person can use the POA powers.
A healthcare power of attorney is an advanced health care directive in California. It grants permission only for health-related decisions.
To create a legal POA, you must be at least 18 years old. You must also create it of your own free will and have the mental capacity to enter into such an agreement. Healthcare POAs must have two witness signatures. Financial POAs must also have two signatures from witnesses or have notarization. If it involves real estate matters, then you must have it notarized.
It is also important to note that you must state in your POA when it becomes effective, such as becoming effective only upon incapacity; otherwise, it goes immediately into effect.
Help Available Now
If you are ready to start thinking about your estate plan or if you have questions, then please contact us at Huber Law Group, A.P.C. We have an Elk Grove estate planning lawyer who can explain California estate law to you in an easy-to-understand manner, along with assisting you in deciding what you plan should entail. Give our office a call today at 916-525-7980 to start working on your estate needs.