San Diego Estate Planning Lawyers
Everyone understands the concept of an estate. Most people associate it with dying—you leave your trusts and estate to your heirs—and associate the concept of “estate planning” with planning for your death. That’s not quite true. An estate plan is also valuable if you become too ill to manage your own affairs, which in modern times with extended life spans is what happens to many people before they die.
If you want your affairs in order so that when you either become incapacitated or die, your money and property go where you want them to go, with a minimum of fuss and haggling among your heirs, you should begin planning now.
You don’t have to be wealthy to think about an estate plan; you just need to want your property to go to specific people, and to do so easily, with as little cost as possible. It takes only the energy to inventory your property and your signature on the documents to create a legal record of your wishes.
Benefits of an Estate Plan
A good estate plan can keep your estate out of probate, avoiding the costs and delays in distribution that probate often entails. It may save on income taxes, estate taxes, and even gift taxes.
It also has several non-monetary advantages, including peace of mind. A good, up-to-date estate plan takes a lot of worry off your back, and brings some security to the people you care the most about.
When the plan is detailed and well thought out, it also allows you to tell your family and any other heirs what your plans for them are. In some cases that may cause friction, but in all cases it provides your heirs with the information early and prevents them from being surprised later on, at the same time they are experiencing the trauma of your death or incapacitation.
The Tools of Estate Planning
Not every person needs or wants to have every one of these tools in the estate plan, but these are the basic tools available:
- A will declaring your wishes as to your property, completed according to the legal requirements
- One or more trusts of various kinds (there are numerous kinds of trusts for purposes broad, narrow and in between)
- A living will specifying what types of medical treatment you do (and don’t) want should you become incapacitated
- A health care proxy designating who should make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapable of making them yourself
- A durable power of attorney giving authority to a named person to carry out financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapable of doing so; the person designated can then pay your bills, make financial transactions, sign you up for benefits, etc.
These are the tools specific to an estate plan. You may also have insurance pensions and similar assets that address what happens to that asset when you die by naming beneficiaries.
Keep Your Plan Up to Date
Estate plans should be no more static than your life is. If your life changes significantly, the plan should change accordingly. That means that the plan should be updated both when your property undergoes change, and when your family situation changes. And, of course, when the applicable laws change.
The most obvious family changes that call for adjustments to the estate plan are death and divorce. Many people will also find that the degree of affection they have for members of their family and friends varies, sometimes enough that they want to increase or reduce the provisions made for someone.
Estate Planning Assistance in San Diego
A good estate plan is based on thorough knowledge of your desires, personal relationships, and assets, but is only as good as your knowledge of the laws that set the boundaries for transferring property and rights. At the Boyd Law Firm in San Diego, you’ll find experienced, sophisticated attorneys with a history of close relations with our clients. If you’re thinking about how to take care of your family if something happens to you, contact Boyd Law. We’re here to help guide you through the estate planning process. There’s never a charge for the initial consultation.