Estate Planning Attorneys

Estate Planning and Wills and Trusts

Estate planning has several purposes.  One is to take make sure you are taken care of when you can no longer care for yourself.  The other is to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of when you pass away.  Two of the main vehicles we use to accomplish these goals are wills and trusts.

 

When someone dies without a will, the state of California determines where your money and property go.  This is known as intestacy.  Many people do not trust the state of California to make this decision for them.  Luckily, we can override the state’s decision using wills and trusts.

A will is a document that becomes effective when you die.  It is where you decide how your money and property are distributed.  When someone dies with a will, a judge has to oversee where things go.  This is known as probate.  Probate can be very costly, time consuming, and is public.  Due to these reasons, most people wish to avoid probate.  Thankfully there are ways to avoid probate.

A trust is a document that allows us to avoid probate and override the state’s intestacy laws.  This means you can transfer money and property to your beneficiaries without court involvement.  You, the grantor, place property and money into a trust.  This means re-titling your deed and other accounts into your trust’s name.  A trustee manages these assets.  While you are alive and able to, you are your own trustee.  Should you no longer be able to manage your affairs, a successor trustee will take over.  You nominate this person.  When you die, your successor trustee distributes anything in the trust to your beneficiaries.

There are several types of trusts used for several purposes.  Purposes can range from asset protection planning, tax planning, veterans benefits planning, Medi-Cal planning, and special needs planning.

OC Elder Law creates a comprehensive solution using cutting-edge strategies to fit your needs.  If this involves trusts, we walk you through the steps in an easily digestible way.  We will accomplish your goals and protect you and your family.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney, sometimes known as a financial durable power of attorney, is another important tool for your estate planning needs.  A power of attorney is only effective while you are living.  A power of attorney gives someone else the ability to help manage your financial assets and property.  This power can be as broad or as narrow as you see fit.

Healthcare Documents

Healthcare documents are critical pieces of your estate plan.  There are several names for healthcare documents, but we break them up into three important pieces.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A healthcare power of attorney allows someone the ability to make decisions regarding your healthcare needs should you no longer be able to make those decisions yourself.  It is critical that you have one in place.  Just as important as the document is a conversation; this conversation with the person you place in charge of your healthcare is key to receiving the care and treatment you want.  OC Elder Law facilitates these conversations and gives you the peace of mind knowing your wishes will be honored.

Advance Healthcare Directive (Living Will)

An advance healthcare directive directs the person you choose to be in charge of your healthcare on certain choices.  This is where you would discuss decisions made should you be in an unrecoverable state.

HIPAA Release

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a law that prevents doctors and medical facilities from releasing your medical information.  This protection can be waived so that friends and family may speak to the doctors and receive information regarding your care.  The people you choose to give this privilege to may obtain medical information, but are not decision makers.  The person in charge of your healthcare is nominated in your healthcare power of attorney.

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