There comes a time in everyone's life where it's vital to make an estate plan in order to spare a lot of confusion and frustration in the event of your death. No matter your net worth, you need to have a basic estate plan in place to ensure that your desires are met after you pass away. There are several elements of an estate plan, including a will, assignment of power of attorney, a living will, and maybe a trust.
Trusts aren't just for the wealthy – they let you put conditions on how your assets will be distributed upon your death. Trusts also reduce your estate and gift taxes without the delay and publicity of probate court. While trusts are optional, everyone needs a will. A will defines where you want your assets distributed when you die and you can also name guardians for your children. Dying without a will can be a large process, which can be costly to your heirs and gives you virtually no say over your assets. When you put together your will, be sure to be mindful of federal and state laws regarding estates.
The first place to start is to take an inventory of your assets, whether it's investments, retirement savings, insurance policies, real estate, and business. You need to decide who will inherit your assets, who will handle your financial affairs if you're ever incapacitated, and who should make the medical decisions for you if you are ever in a state where you cannot make them yourself.
In order to have your desires met after death, it's important to start estate planning now. Discuss estate plans with your heirs and contact an experienced California probate attorney to help make sure everything is in place.