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Five Things You Must Have in Your Estate Plan

by | Sep 18, 2021 | estate planning

Getting started with the process of estate planning may seem like a daunting task. However, it is always better to begin planning for your future sooner rather than later. As you begin thinking about the future and how you want to manage your assets and estate, there are a few crucial items you should be sure you include.

Estate Planning in California

Whether you are just getting started with estate planning or you want to update your estate plans, a skilled estate planning attorney can help. The dedicated estate planning attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver have assisted their clients with all aspects of estate planning for many years. Give our office a call today to set up a consultation with one of our lawyers to move forward with your estate planning needs.

Five Things to Include in Your Estate Plan

There are five major things that you should strongly consider including in your estate plan. Including these five items in your estate plans will help ensure that your wishes are followed upon your passing and can also help you in many ways during your lifetime.

1. A Will

When most people start thinking about estate planning, making a will is likely one of the first things to come to mind. Wills are one of the most basic and common forms of estate planning—however, they are pretty important.

Creating a will allows you to designate someone to be the executor of your estate. The executor will be responsible for managing the estate, distributing property and assets, and paying any debts.

When drafting your will, you can designate beneficiaries to receive property and assets from your estate and choose who specifically will receive specific items. If you have minor children, you can (and should) name a guardian or guardians to take on that role if it becomes necessary. Additionally, you can also include instructions regarding your wishes for a funeral and burial upon your passing.

2. A Living Will

Another vital thing to include in your estate plan is a living will. It is always a good idea to include this in your estate plan regardless of your age, but it is of particular importance for older individuals or those who have been diagnosed with a serious illness.

A living will contains specific instructions for an individual’s wishes regarding end-of-life medical care. When you draft your living will, you can choose to include specific medical treatments that you would or would not want performed and under which circumstances.

For example, if you do not want extraordinary measures taken to prolong your life, such as life support, you should include those instructions in your living will. Creating a living will helps your loved ones avoid making difficult decisions and guesses about how you want major health decisions handled.

3. Financial Power of Attorney

You should also include a financial power of attorney in your estate plan. This document allows you to designate someone to make important decisions on your behalf regarding financial matters if you are incapacitated in some way.

If you are unable to make these decisions on your own, the court may appoint a guardian to make the decisions for you. However, if you include a financial power of attorney in your estate plans, you can ensure that the person making these decisions on your behalf is someone that you trust and have chosen ahead of time.

4. Healthcare Power of Attorney

Another important part of an estate plan is a healthcare power of attorney. With a healthcare power of attorney in place, you can choose someone to make essential healthcare decisions on your behalf if you cannot make them yourself.

By including this document in your estate plans, you avoid having a court-appointed guardian handle these choices. The healthcare power of attorney gives you more control over these important decisions by choosing someone that you trust for this role.

5. A Trust

Creating a trust is also an essential aspect of an estate plan. Trusts are not just useful for large estates—smaller estates can benefit from the inclusion of a trust, too. A trust often allows for a simpler distribution of specific pieces of property or assets.

One of the benefits of using a trust is that the property within the trust does not automatically go through probate. Without the court’s involvement, financial details can also remain more private. Avoiding probate court can also save everyone involved time and money, as well as eliminating some stress during a difficult time for your loved ones.

Contact Your Local Estate Planning Attorney Today

At Galanti & Copenhaver, Inc. we are committed to delivering personalized legal guidance to you that is individually tailored to your unique circumstances.  If you are ready to get started on creating an estate plan, contact us today at 707-867-0787 or fill out our online contact form.