Estate Planning Overview
Making a simple estate plan can protect your assets and shield your family from liabilities upon your incapacitation or death. Planning your estate may include one or more of the following:
- Decide which loved ones will receive your property once you pass away
- Designate an executor to probate your estate and settle your affairs
- Designate guardians for your children
- Avoid a full probate
- Make sure you decide what happens to you if you become incapacitated
Common Simple Estate Plan Documents
The following are a list of estate planning documents you may need when you make a simple estate plan:
- Will. A will is a simple estate plan document that describes who receives your property if you pass away. When a person creates a will, the State won’t control who receives property according to California’s intestate laws. Most people are capable of creating a will without consulting with a lawyer. We definitely don’t recommend those fill-in-the-blank wills. A People’s Choice can prepare your will so your estate will go to the people you choose – not those selected under California law.
- Living Trust. A revocable living trust is another common simple estate plan document used by individuals with larger estates. If you own a house or land, creating a living trust can avoid probate of your estate. A revocable trust is also a good estate planning tool for estates valued over $150,000. With a living trust, the assets can quickly transfer to the people named, avoiding a probate process after a person dies. There are different options to create a living trust such as using online software or a book. We don’t recommend doing either. Although you don’t need to hire an expensive lawyer, it’s always better to use the services of an experienced professional. A People’s Choice has over 40 years of experience preparing these types of documents.
- Power of Attorney. Every simple estate plan should include a back-up plan if someone becomes incapacitated and cannot handle their finances. A power of attorney document allows you to appoint a person to manage your financial affairs if something unforeseen happens and you cannot handle your finances yourself. You can create a power of attorney that becomes effective right away or one that only becomes effective if you are incapacitated. Keep in mind, however, once a durable power of attorney becomes effective, it will stay in place, even if you later can handle your own affairs.
- Health Care Directive. The final document included in most simple estate plans is a healthcare directive. This document allows you to appoint a person to make medical decisions on your behalf. Remember, as with a power of attorney, this document is your voice if you cannot speak for yourself because you are incapacitated. In addition, a healthcare directive can include your wishes for health care treatment, organ donation, and final funeral arrangements.
At A People’s Choice, we can help you make a simple estate plan for a fraction of the cost of what an attorney would charge. People are often unaware that our office uses the same estate planning legal software that many California attorneys use! Using our services you get the same documentation for hundreds of dollars less. We believe it is always better to hire a legal document preparer to create your estate plan than using automated online services. Yes, there are other online solutions such as LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer. Individuals who rely on these types of do-it-yourself estate planning sites expose themselves to documents that are either 1) incorrect 2) inconsistent or 3) invalid. Given these points, our experience has shown that documents prepared through these sites are more susceptible to being invalid or contain conflicting clauses. As a result, if you don’t want to hire a lawyer, we strongly believe it is always better to work with an experienced legal document preparer. Contact us today for more information about our simple estate plan services. You can reach us through our website or by calling 800-747-2780.
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