As the name implies, estate planning lays out your future plans for your possessions. Of course, there's more to estate planning than a last will and testament, and California offers a wide range of options.

Let's take a look at estate planning documents that our West Covina Estate Planning Attorneys frequently handle.

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Legal Documents For Estate Planning In West Covina

1. Last Will And Testament

A will is a legal document that lays out how your assets will be divided after you die. If you die without a last will and testament, your property will be divided according to California's intestate succession rules, which may or may not be the same as how you would divide it if you had one.

A legal Will, on the other hand, must be allowed to go through probate. Probate is a time-consuming and expensive process in California. Most California residents would rather avoid it altogether, so they combine a basic Will with the next most important estate planning component, a living trust.

Despite the fact that you can make your own will, the last will and testament is still a legal document that requires certain wording, phrasing, and signatures. Consult a West Covina Estate Planning Attorney to ensure you don't overlook any things that are required for a legal Will.

2. Living Trust

A living trust is a legal structure in which the trustee owns and manages property for the benefit of named beneficiaries. When you pass away or become unable to make your own decisions, your trust will specify how the property will be divided and who will take over as trustee.

All of these modifications can be done without having to go to court with a living trust. Living trusts are often created in conjunction with a Will, which captures any property you didn't transfer to the trust for any reason.

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A living trust can be altered or completely canceled at any time. This allows you to avoid a lengthy probate process while still being in control of your possessions.

You could also create an irrevocable trust, which has its own set of benefits. Irrevocable trusts, on the other hand, have one disadvantage: they can't be altered or canceled, so you'll have to relinquish some power over the trust property while you're still alive.

In any case, speak with a West Covina Estate Attorney to determine the right sort of trust for you and your estate planning.

3. Power Of Attorney

This is a legal document that gives someone else authority over your property and finances. This document is special in that it continues to function (or only functions, depending on how you arrange it) even if you become handicapped or unable to make your own decisions.

You should create a general durable power of attorney in case you become incapable (or are projected to become incapable) of making decisions. However, because you will not be overseeing their actions, you should carefully select who you want to make these decisions with.

To assist you with drafting this document, speak with a West Covina Estate Planning Lawyer.

4. Advanced Healthcare Directive

The California Legislature has created a statutory advance health care directive form that you can use to appoint a healthcare proxy and give explicit instructions about your treatment.

A healthcare power of attorney is part one of the statutory form. This is comparable to a standard durable power of attorney, except it exclusively applies to medical rather than financial choices.

This is another important document. However, before selecting someone to exercise that power, you should read the instructions carefully and seek legal advice from a West Covina Estate Planning Attorney.

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Part 2 allows you to provide your doctors and the person you named in Part 1 with specific healthcare instructions. One of the most important directions you can offer in this part, for example, is whether or not you should be given life-sustaining treatment if you are in one of the following situations:

  • You have an incurable, irrevocable condition that will kill you in a short amount of time;
  • You are expected to lose consciousness and will not regain consciousness;
  • The risks and expenses of treatment would outweigh the anticipated benefits.

In parts 3 and 4, you can name a primary physician and decide whether or not your organs should be donated. If you do not complete these parts, the person you named in Part 1 will be able to make these decisions on your behalf.

Filling up an advanced health care directive is critical because it notifies your doctors who to contact if you become unable to make decisions about your health care. You can also alleviate them the burden of picking for you by offering specific instructions on how to respond to some of the more tough questions.

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We can refer you to an experienced prescreened Estate Lawyer in California best fit to handle your case. 

Contact us through our 24/7 live chat (or complete our case submission form) for a free initial consultation.