When someone ages or comes face-to-face with concerns over mortality, they might start taking long-overdue estate planning steps seriously. With detailed and thoughtful estate planning, a person could make things less stressful for their surviving heirs. The individual could also make sure their wishes guide things as opposed to leaving their assets up to California’s intestate laws.
Creating a thorough estate plan
Writing a will may be the cornerstones of someone’s estate planning decisions. A will could determine what beneficiaries receive specific assets while possibly allocating some assets to charities or other organizations. A will could also contain specific directives that the testator wants.
When sitting down and thinking through estate planning, someone might feel that a trust would be useful. Trusts could help beneficiaries avoid probate while also providing the person crafting the trust with more decision-making authority.
Some people wish to review the steps for transferring financial assets outside of probate. Naming joint owners or beneficiaries to financial accounts could be helpful since such assets would transfer on death.
Other points about estate planning
Estate planning steps are not always about wills, trusts and financial matters, nor is estate planning always focused on what happens after someone passes away. A person with a terminal disease may become too ill to handle routine affairs. Before such a situation occurs, designating a trusted agent with power-of-attorney authority could leave decisions in competent hands.
Responsibilities do not go away when an individual becomes incapacitated. Creating a living will or health care proxy provides ways to handle medical decisions during a catastrophic event smoothly.
It bears mentioning that all estate-related documents must be legally sound to be valid. Poorly composed wills and other documents may prove useless. Estate planners should understand that flawed DIY documents could make probate and other estate matters more challenging for the parties involved.