Estate Planning Isn’t Just About Assets

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When you think of estate planning or hiring an estate planning lawyer, you’re likely to first consider what he or she can help you do when it comes to the assets you would leave behind in the event of your death.  But you may think that you don’t have a great amount of “wealth” and therefore you don’t need estate planning . There are other extremely important services that this person provides, and the fact that the vast majority of Americans don’t have this type of planning in place is truly problematic.

Healthcare and End of Life Choices

For example, living wills are something that everyone should have.  This document allows you to make your healthcare and end-of-life wishes known in case you are in a position where you cannot speak for yourself.  Along those lines, a healthcare agent can be named, a person you trust to make decisions for you regarding your medical choices in those situations.

Financial Authority in Event of Incapacity

No matter what your level of assets, you will still need someone who has legal authority to manage your finances if you become incapacitated. Just because you have become incapacitated doesn’t mean that mortgages, credit card payments, property taxes, medical bills etc. will stop.  And these things don’t happen automatically; in fact, if no one has proper legal authority a court proceeding may be necessary. A conservatorship is a court proceeding  whereby  a judge (who doesn’t know you or your family dynamics) will put someone of their choosing in charge of your finances.  You want to avoid this scenario, so contact your Orange County estate planning lawyer who can help you create a financial power of attorney in which you name someone you trust to manage your funds to meet your financial obligations.

Naming Guardians for Minor Children

And, it should almost go without saying that parents absolutely NEED to meet with a trusted estate planning lawyer so that they are assured of naming a guardian for their children.  Should you pass away without leaving the California courts this documentation, it will be up to the courts to choose a guardian for you, and there decision will likely be based more on legal precedent than on your wishes. No parent wants to leave their children in a lurch, but that is exactly what could happen if the “unexpected” happened before you get your legal ducks in a row!

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