• How to Prepare Your Own Estate Planning Documents

How to Prepare Your Own Estate Planning Documents

You can prepare your own estate planning documents without hiring an attorney. Contrary to popular belief, estate planning does not have to be difficult. Once you understand common estate planning documents, you will be able to choose which documents work best for your family. Here is a list of estate planning documents you should consider.

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There are many documents you may want to consider when you prepare your own estate planning documents. This video will help you decide what type of estate plan you need and what documents may be required.

Prepare Your Own Estate Planning Documents with a Last will

Creating a last will creates a simple plan for your estate. Unfortunately, larger estates usually require probate if the decedent owned assets over $150,000 and did not have a trust. When you create a will, you will name an executor whose responsibility is to pay your debts and distribute your estate to the people you want to receive it. If you pass away without a will, however, your property will pass to your survivors through California’s intestate succession laws. People that plan their estate with a trust will also have a will. In this instance, the will is merely a backup plan that handles any assets that inadvertently were not put into the trust. Keep in mind, the will can be a straight-forward will, or a pour-over will into a trust.

In addition to creating a last will, good estate planning will include a living will, commonly called a health care proxy or advance healthcare directive. For example, a living will expresses your wishes about the type of medical care you want should you become incapacitated or terminally ill. This directive will also identify the extraordinary kind of care you want (or do not want) should you become permanently unconscious and unable to speak your wishes.

At A People’s Choice, we can help you prepare a last will. Contact our office today for more information.

Prepare Your Own Estate Planning Documents With a Living Trust

Holding your assets in a revocable living trust will allow your loved ones to avoid having to probate your estate. This is particularly important if the estate has a value over $150,000 as the statutory fees attorneys charge for probate are very high. When you create a revocable living trust, you will save your loved ones time and money. Probating an estate can take eight months to over a year and cost up to 10% of the value of your estate. Creating a trust will also protect your privacy. All probate matters are public. All legal documents filed in the probate of your estate are open to the public’s viewing. 

Preparing Your Own Estate Planning Documents with an Advance Healthcare Directive

As mentioned above, creating an advance healthcare directive will able you to make decisions ahead of time about your medical care in the event you become incapacitated or terminally ill. A healthcare directive allows you to express your wishes should you not be able to relay your desires at the time of medical need.

Preparing Your Own Estate Planning Documents with A Financial Power of Attorney

A financial power of attorney allows you to select another person to manage and control your finances and property if you become incapacitated. The person you choose will become your agent or attorney-in-fact. It should be noted that a power of attorney automatically expires once you pass away. In this regard, it is ineffective after death.

In addition to creating the above-referenced documents, consider designating a beneficiary for your bank accounts and insurance policies. You can also register your stocks, bonds, and brokerage accounts to transfer to your beneficiary upon your death. Talk with a CPA to understand estate taxes.  In addition, make your wishes known to your family about your funeral arrangements and related expenses.

Contact us today to discuss the estate planning documents you would like to create. Call us at 800-747-2780.

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By |2018-05-02T10:46:40+00:00May 1st, 2018|Estate Planning|0 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.

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