Everything you need to know about comprehensive estate planning including wills, revocable living trusts, probate administration and advanced healthcare directives.
A typical and comprehensive Estate Plan should include a Living Trust, a Durable Power of Attorney, an Advance Health Care Directive with HIPAA Authorization, and a Pour Over Will (a special type of Will that accompanies the Living Trust that acts as a safety net).
You can avoid the headache of Probate Courts through responsible estate planning. Most people think that all they need is a Will and to designate beneficiaries to ensure their property easily transfers to their heirs after they pass away. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Having a Will does not avoid Probate. As estate planning attorneys, it’s our duty to make sure our client’s loved ones are protected from the complicated and time-consuming process of the California Probate Courts.
If you own real property or have minor children, you likely need a Comprehensive Estate Plan that includes a Living Trust. A comprehensive Estate Plan is the best way to provide clear instructions for the transfer of your assets to your heirs outside of Probate Court. Other documents included in a comprehensive Estate Plan, such as a Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive, also ensure the proper management of your finances and health care if you become incapacitated while avoiding unnecessary court involvement with excessive fees and costs. If incapacitated, your Estate Plan also provides nominations for guardianship of your minor children. When you have a properly funded Comprehensive Estate Plan, you can eliminate all of the fees, hassles, and courtroom drama associated with Probate. A Comprehensive Estate Plan can provide you with more privacy than a Will because, in most states, Living Trusts are not recorded and, therefore, remain private documents.
A Schedule of Assets is a document containing a comprehensive list of the assets that have been transferred into your Trust. It also lists assets with designated beneficiaries that are not typically retitled into the name of the Trust. A Schedule of Assets also serves as a statement of your intent – what assets you planned to hold in your Trust.
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A Certification of Trust is a privacy document used to retitle assets into your Trust. Authorized Trustee(s) can present this document to banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions to confirm their authority to act on behalf of the Trust while keeping the personal information in your Trust private.
An Advance Health Care Directive, also known as Living Will, is a legal document in which you can specify what actions should be taken for your health if you are incapacitated and are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. An Advance Health Care Directive also ensures that your health care agent will have access to your medical records in order to make necessary medical care decisions on your behalf.
A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to authorize someone to act on your behalf for carrying out personal and financial matters. While a standard Power of Attorney is somewhat limited, this special legal document is called “Durable” because it allows the person you authorize to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
A Pour-Over Will is a special type of Will that, when used in conjunction with a Trust, allows for assets not already titled in the Trust to be directed into it upon your death.
A Revocable Living Trust provides that upon your death, your property will be transferred to your chosen beneficiaries according to your specific inheriting instructions. Additionally, a Revocable Living Trust also provides instructions for the management of your assets if you become incapacitated.