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What will happen to your kids if you were to pass away tomorrow? What about to your house, and your car – what about to your pet!? If you have family heirlooms, where will those go…and what about your bank accounts, retirement accounts, and other money you’ve worked hard for? What if you are injured in an accident or suffer an illness and can’t make decisions for yourself – who will make medical calls about your care, and what will those calls be?
These are incredibly tough questions, but they need to be answered because none of us know what tomorrow will hold. Our caring Pasadena estate planning lawyer can help you think through how to plan for the future in a way that protects your wealth, your family, and your legacy! Call today to schedule a free consultation.
Different Documents Your Estate Plan Should Include
Most people think that all they need to ensure that their possessions go to the right people when they die is a will, but the reality is much more complicated! A will alone is good to have, but is limited in the scope of what it can do. When properly drafted, it does make your wishes known (and legally enforceable) for who should inherit what assets when you pass away and who should care for your children.
However, it only goes into effect when you pass away – it can’t help you or your family in the event of incapacitation during your lifetime. It also has to pass through probate, which is a lengthy and expensive court process that essentially confirms that it is valid and requires a court to oversee the process of carrying out the will’s contents.
In order to bypass probate and prepare for the possibility of a medical emergency, you will likely also need the following (all of which our Pasadena estate planning lawyer can help you create):
A revocable or irrevocable trust – A trust is an entity that holds and secures assets. You can put real estate in a trust as well as various other money and possessions. When they are in the trust, it is much harder for them to be seized by creditors or others who would make claims against you; a trust can even shield them from counting against you for eligibility requirements or tax purposes. You, the creator of the trust, are known as the grantor, and you can designate a trustee (or make yourself a trustee) to manage the funds in the trust for the benefit of yourself and your beneficiaries.
Trusts, unlike wills, do not have to go through probate – anything in the trust can go directly to your heirs when you pass away. Both revocable (flexible) and irrevocable (inflexible) trusts can take effect immediately upon creation, rather than just upon your death.
A living will/advance directive – A living will, or advance directive, is a type of estate planning document that spells out your wishes for medical care in the event that you cannot make those decisions in the moment for yourself. For example, if you would not want to be put on a ventilator, or if you want to be an organ donor, these things could be clarified and made legally enforceable with a living will that your doctors and family members would rely on if something should happen to you.
A power of attorney – This gives someone else that you designate the right to make decisions on your behalf if you cannot. While a living will explains what decisions you want to have made in many circumstances, you can’t foresee everything that could happen. Granting power of attorney can make sure that no matter how unexpected the situation is, someone you trust will hopefully make decisions that would be in line with your own. Powers of attorney can be medical, legal, financial, or all three.
Beneficiary designations – It’s a little-known fact that beneficiary designations actually override a will if they don’t match! One important part of estate planning is making sure that all of the beneficiary designations on your accounts line up with the ones made in your will so that there isn’t any conflict or supririses.
Our Pasadena Estate Planning Lawyer Can Offer Peace Of Mind!
No two lives are the same, and no two estate plans should be either. Attorney Michelle E. Murphy can help Pasadena residents understand what type of estate planning documents they need based on their unique goals and then draft customized, comprehensive plans that reflect those! Because she has over 20 years of experience, she has the knowledge necessary to protect everything and everyone who matters most to you. Call to schedule your free consultation and get started today!
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Ms. Murphy made sure to use all of her resources and did everything legally possible to help me. She fought harder than other lawyers out there and found ways to make everything work in my favor. I really appreciate how she helped me and made me feel at ease under the worst circumstances. I recommend her highly.
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