Estate Planning is the lifelong process of deciding what to do with your property. Every time you buy, sell, trade, give away, invest, lose or acquire property, it affects your estate. With the use of Wills and Trusts, we can help you in deciding how to distribute your property to the people or insitutions of your choice. This is very important, because if you don’t thoughtfully make these choices, the State of California will make them for you.
Revocable Living Trusts
A Grantor creates a trust when they give property to a Trustee to hold, manage, and ultimately distribute it to a Beneficiary. In most cases today, a couple or a single person creates a revocable living trust for their own benefit. While they are alive, they fund the trust with their possessions, enjoy the use and proceeds from the trust property, and use the trust provisions to distribute their property to the people or institutions of their choice when they have passed on. During their lifetime, they can amend or revoke the trust as they wish.
A Will is a document by which a person regulates the rights of others over his property or family after death. When executed with a trust, the will is called a “pour-over” will, as any property not owned by the trust is transferred to the trust at the time of death. The Will becomes a public document upon death and it has special rules with regards to the signing and witnessing of the execution of the Will. Most importantly for young families, the Will is the document which nominates a Guardian for any children under the age of eighteen.
Power of Attorney – Health Care (also known as Advance Health Care Directive or Living Will )
This Power of Attorney gives an agent the authorization to make health care decisions for the principal, when the principal is unable to make those decisions for themself. Within this Power of Attorney are directives concerning end of life decisions, organ donation and disposition of remains. This document should be readily accessible in case of emergency. Keep photocopies for you and your spouse in the glove boxes of your automobiles.
Power of Attorney – Financial Matters
This Power of Attorney is an authorization to act on someone else’s behalf in a legal or business matter. In Estate Planning, this is primarily used when the person authorizing, the principal, selects who they want as their agent, or attorney-in-fact, to make financial decisions for them if the principal becomes incapacitated. The Power of Attorney can also be used on an immediate (not waiting for incapacity) or a temporary (authorizing to act for a specific time or purpose) basis.