When you get together with your family for the holidays, you may notice that some things have changed over the years. You may have gotten a new grandchild over the year or welcomed a new daughter-in-law into the family. These changes are a good reminder that you should make sure your estate plan is keeping up with your life and your family.
California Estate Planning Attorneys
As the holiday season approaches, there is no better time to get started with estate planning. The California estate planning attorneys at Galanti and Copenhaver have many years of experience preparing estate plans for their clients. We can help you determine the best course of action to protect your finances and your estate. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation to meet with one of our attorneys and learn more about how an estate plan can benefit you.
Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?
Almost anyone will benefit from having a solid estate plan in place. Many Americans do not yet have any estate plans—not even a will. Younger individuals, especially those with children, should still consider doing some basic estate planning even if they do not have substantial assets.
Estate planning involves so much more than simply deciding who should get what asset after you pass away. If you have children, you can (and should) include the name or names of the people you want to have guardianship of your children in your estate plans if something were to happen to you. Otherwise, this important decision may fall into the hands of the court, which may result in a different outcome than you would prefer.
Estate plans are also useful tools for managing money. This can be accomplished through a revocable trust, which can generate investment income via the trust assets. Having a detailed estate plan, such as one that includes a trust, can also help your family and beneficiaries avoid having to go through the probate process after your death. Probate can be an expensive and lengthy process.
Getting Started with Estate Planning
The holidays are a perfect time to start planning for your future. Wills are the most basic form of estate planning, but there are many other forms of estate planning and things to consider.
Revocable and irrevocable trusts are also common estate planning tools. Assets in revocable trusts can still be managed by you during your lifetime, so this is one tool that can have immediate benefit to you.
The estate planning process can also include making an advance medical directive, which sets forth your wishes for emergency medical situations and end-of-life care. Power of attorney documents are also useful. These documents allow you to designate someone to handle healthcare and financial decisions if you are incapacitated and are unable to do so on your own. If you want to have both a healthcare power of attorney and financial power of attorney, keep in mind that they do not have to be the same person. Whom you choose is entirely up to you.
Updating Your Estate Plans
The holiday season is a great time to review your estate plans that are already in place. It is often a time of reflection and thinking about what is most important in life. During this time, you can consider some of the substantial questions that arise during the estate planning process.
While reviewing and updating your plan, consider whether your views regarding health care decision-making and financial decision-making have changed. You may want to revise your advance medical directive to reflect any changes you want regarding medical care if you are incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself in the moment.
Additionally, if your estate plan includes a financial power of attorney document, you may want to review the terms and decide if you would like to modify the level of control that individual will have if the document is needed. In some cases, you may even want to designate a different person to handle these duties.
From time to time, you should review the individuals you designate as the executor of your estate, trustee of any trusts, and even your chosen beneficiaries. As time goes on, more people may be added to or born into your family, and you may want to include them as beneficiaries.
Alternatively, beneficiaries may pass away, or you may simply decide that you no longer want someone to receive any distribution from your estate. It is always a good idea to review your estate plans from time to time to ensure that no major changes are needed. Contact Galanti & Copenhaver, Inc. today at 707-538-6074 or fill out our online contact form to see how we can help you.