Estate planning involves deciding who you want to receive your assets after death, who you want to manage the disbursement of those assets, and documenting those wishes with clarity and in a tax-efficient manner. The documents required to achieve these goals is tailored to your specific circumstances. A California resident will typically need a will, trust, financial power of attorney, and an advanced directive.
As certified specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts, and Probate Law, the attorneys at Toews Bio & Abram are guided by a client-specific mentality. They strive to uncomplicate the estate planning process in San Luis Obispo and provide you with peace of mind about what will happen to your property and loved ones at the end of your life.
Last Will and Testament
Although the last will and testament is the document most individuals think of when they first think of estate planning, the key document is actually the Trust. For California residents, a Will serves as a safety net for assets not titled in the name of the Trust and for naming guardians.
If a decedent has surviving children but no surviving spouse, a will should provide instructions for guardianship. For individuals with a Trust, the Will names the Trust as the beneficiary via a “pour-over” provision.
Revocable Living Trusts
A revocable living trust, also known as a family trust, is the key document in an estate plan. The Trust designates an individual to transfer assets to the named beneficiaries, designates the beneficiaries, and provides key terms if assets are to be held in trust for a beneficiary. These trusts can be revoked or modified by the grantors during their lifetimes.
There are several advantages to setting up a living trust, the most significant of which is that assets titled in the name of the trust avoid the long and expensive probate process. Upon the grantor’s death (or the death of a surviving grantor), the trust becomes irrevocable.
A San Luis Obispo lawyer could further explain the distinctions between these types of trusts and help you determine whether you could benefit from using this tool in the process of estate planning.
Powers of Attorney
California residents can create a financial power of attorney, which designates a person (the agent) to handle financial matters on their behalf. These documents either take effect immediately upon signing or upon an individual’s incapacity. The agent’s responsibilities typically associated with a financial power of attorney include banking, managing real estate and other property, and securing living arrangements for the incapacitated person.
While it may be uncomfortable to consider the possibility you may no longer be able to manage your affairs, it is wise to draft a durable financial power of attorney to prepare for the unexpected. A durable power of attorney does not become effective until you become incapacitated.
Medical Powers of Attorney
Like financial powers, the terms of a medical power of attorney depend on circumstances, but they generally take effect when a patient becomes incapacitated. The designated person can obtain medical records and make medical decisions, such as authorizing surgery, when the patient cannot. Further, the medical agent is responsible for making end-of-life decisions. During the estate planning process, a skilled attorney in San Luis Obispo will help you create documents that grant another person the powers of attorney you feel comfortable with.
Our San Luis Obispo Attorneys Can Guide You Through the Estate Planning Process
Although wills and trusts are staples to all estate plans, individuals have other options available depending on their specific needs. Some people may want to put off estate planning, but the sooner they tackle it, the sooner they can rest easy that a plan for their future, assets, and family is in place.
At Toews Bio & Abram, Inc, our lawyers are ready to help you navigate the estate planning process in San Luis Obispo in a way that is tailored to you and your needs. We can help you plan to distribute assets and ensure your intentions are carried out. Call to schedule a consultation today.