We get it: Nobody wants to contemplate his or her own mortality. That might explain why numerous recent studies have found that only between 35% and 45% of Americans have a will.
But the fact is your loved ones will have to handle your assets when you’re gone. And by writing an estate plan, you can protect your loved ones from the cost, delays and frustration of Probate Court — and grant them the ability to focus on their loss. So to make this relatively painless, we’ll break it down into four steps.
1. Decide If You Need a Trust
Contrary to popular belief, trusts aren’t just for rich people. (Though if you own real property in California, or have young children, you’ll definitely want to think about creating one.)
A trust lets you put conditions on how and when your assets will be distributed upon your death. Placing assets into a trust may allow you to reduce your estate and gift taxes and offers greater protection of your assets from creditors and lawsuits.
2. Understand Why You Need a Will
If you die without a Will, the state decides who gets what without regard to your wishes or your heirs’ needs. If you die and leave a spouse and kids, your assets will generally be split (sometimes unfairly split) between your surviving mate and children.
What if you’re single with no children? Then the state is likely to decide who among your blood relatives will inherit your estate. Finally, making a will is especially important for people with young children. This is because wills are the best way to nominate guardians of minors.
3. Assign Power of Attorney
No one is immune from the loss of mental clarity that may come with aging, injury or illness. Granting someone you trust the power of attorney allows that person to pay bills, manage investments, or make key financial decisions if you are unable to do so. Your agent is empowered to sign your name and is obligated to be your fiduciary. This means that they must act in your best financial interest at all times and in accordance with your written wishes.
4. Create an Advance Health Care Directive
An advance medical directive is a statement of your wishes for the kind of life-sustaining medical intervention you want (or don’t want) in the event that you become ill or injured and cannot verbally communicate. An advance medical directive is one of the best ways to have a say in your medical care when you can’t otherwise express yourself.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney Today
If you would like more information about creating an estate plan, speak to an estate planning attorney at Herbert Law Office. Give us a call today at (661) 273-9007.