It’s never too soon or too late to begin the estate planning process. Although a significant percentage of middle-aged and older adults still do not have even a will, the number of young adults with a will increased by 63% from 2020 to 2021.
Perhaps it was the COVID-19 pandemic that prompted those aged 18-34 to execute this basic estate planning instrument. What is certain is that for the first time ever, those young adults are more likely to have a will than those in the 35-54 age group.
There are a number of different estate planning tools that people can use to either ensure their wishes are honored if they become incapacitated or ensure that their legacies are preserved after they die. A knowledgeable and dedicated estate planning attorney can help you explore these various tools and decide which tool will work best for you.
With more than 40 years of estate planning experience, John L. Shaw, Attorney at Law has helped countless clients in Temple City, Pasadena, Arcadia, Rosemead, and Alhambra, California, draft and execute various estate planning documents so that they can feel more prepared for the future — and he would be proud to help you too.
Having an estate plan in place is particularly important for older adults, severely ill people, and parents with minor children — however, every adult should consider working with an estate planning attorney to craft the documents they need. As you experience life-changing events, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth or adoption of children, you will accumulate new assets that an estate plan can make accommodations for.
Estate planning can often be complex. There are tax implications, probate assets and non-probate assets, and state-specific laws that determine whether a document is legally enforceable. Working with an estate planning attorney can be valuable because they know how to align your wishes with the requirements of the law.
A will is valuable, but it is only one tool in a comprehensive estate plan that details the distribution of your estate according to your wishes.
The following are areas that you should discuss with an experienced estate planning attorney:
A will can document what happens to your assets and provide instructions for who retains custody of your minor children or even your pets after you die. It provides general guidelines regarding the distribution of your assets, such as dividing your estate equally among any beneficiaries.
If you die without a will, this is referred to as “intestate.” If you die intestate, you will not get to decide how your estate is divided. The court will divide your estate between your spouse and any children you have. If you have neither a spouse nor heirs, the state will liquidate your estate to pay off any debts.
There are two types of trusts, a revocable and an irrevocable trust. Typically, you would name yourself as the trustee of your trust and a successor trustee to handle the trust per your wishes following your death. Creating a trust can help you pass along assets without your heirs having to navigate the process of probate.
There are different types of powers of attorney, but in general, establishing a power of attorney will allow you to grant someone the power to conduct business, manage your finances, or make healthcare decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated. Powers of attorney can be as general or specific as you would like. For example, giving someone the power to manage all of your financial affairs, or the ability to only manage your investments if you are unable to.
Also known as a “living will,” this document specifies your wishes regarding any healthcare decisions, should you be unable to communicate those decisions when you are ill or injured. Making these decisions when you are healthy can save your family and loved ones from having to speculate about what you would prefer if you are unable to voice your opinion.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guarantees the privacy of your health information under federal law. A HIPAA Release allows doctors and other healthcare providers to discuss your medical information with any person or persons that you designate. The Advanced Healthcare Directive goes a step further by allowing someone to make healthcare decisions for you when you are unable to do so yourself.
If you have a child, spouse, or other loved one with any physical, developmental, or emotional challenges, your estate plan can provide for their ongoing care after you are gone. A special needs trust can fund a dependent’s ongoing care and help preserve a number of different benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security Disability.
Estate planning documents allow you to make your wishes clear and ensure they are carried out when you are no longer able to advocate for yourself. Making those decisions now can not only provide you with valuable peace of mind, but it can also provide your loved ones with the opportunity to grieve without the stress and anxiety of trying to make critical decisions about how to handle your estate.
The crafting and execution of each document is a unique process for every individual, however, the need for them to comply with the laws of California is the same. For that reason, whether you have a small estate or own substantial assets, it is wise to consult with an estate planning attorney as soon as possible to begin outlining a plan for the future. Call or reach out to John L. Shaw, Attorney at Law today for the guidance you need.
It is never too early or too late to begin planning for your future. John L. Shaw, Attorney at Law helps clients in Temple City, California and the surrounding areas of Pasadena, Arcadia, Rosemead, and Alhambra, California to determine what estate planning tools they need to be prepared for the future. If you are looking for reliable legal guidance, attorney John L. Shaw can guide you through each step of the process and work with you to create an estate plan that works for you. Call or reach out today to schedule a consultation.