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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Monday, March 11, 2019

Estate Planning Documents You Must Have

What estate planning documents are essential to protect my heirs?


The topic of estate planning often elicits much confusion and uncertainty.  Some of us have likely come to believe that only the elderly or the ultra-wealthy need an estate plan.  Others recognize the importance of an estate plan, but may find themselves nonetheless putting off the task of creating one year after year.  Failing to create an estate plan can leave your heirs in a vulnerable position.  With no estate plan in place, the courts would be forced to divide your assets per state law, which may leave some loved ones out and will cost your heirs in taxes and fees.  Below, our San Ramon, California estate planning lawyers explore the three vital estate planning documents that all of us, regardless of age, marital status, or income level, should have in place.

Will 

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document in which you will set forth your instruction as to how you want your estate distributed to the loved ones you select.  Assets distributed within your will could include your money in the bank, homes, cars, jewelry, and brokerage accounts.  For parents with minor children, a will allows you to additionally name a guardian for your child.  This is of critical importance for parents because, without such a provision, the court would be forced to pick a guardian for you.

Power of Attorney

No one should be without a valid power of attorney.  Sadly, unexpected accidents happen every day.  If you were to become incapacitated, who would take over managing your healthcare and financial decisions? With a power of attorney, you can name a selected individual whom you trust to represent you if you are incapacitated.  Powers of attorney range from general to limited, with you turning over as much or as little decision making power to your selected individual.

Living Will

Living wills take effect during your lifetime.  A living will dictates your instructions regarding medical treatment if you become incapacitated.  Without a living will in place, your loved ones may be stuck struggling to figure out what actions you would want taken to prolong your life.  A living will keeps you in control of your future and takes the burden off your loved ones.  Contact our estate planning lawyers to get started with these estate planning essentials today.



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