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Estate Planning

Estate Planning

While nobody wants to think about death or disability, establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Proper estate planning not only puts you in charge of your finances, it can also spare your loved ones the expense, delay, and frustration associated with managing your affairs when you pass away or become disabled.
 
Providing for Incapacity
If you become incapacitated, you won’t be able to manage your own financial affairs. Many are under the mistaken impression that their spouse or adult children can automatically take over for them in case they become incapacitated.  The truth is that in order for others to be able to manage your finances, they must petition a court to declare you legally incompetent. This process can be lengthy, costly and stressful. Even if the court appoints the person you would have chosen, they may have to come back to the court every year and show how they are spending and investing each and every penny. If you want your family to be able to immediately take over for you, you must designate a person or persons that you trust in proper legal documents so that they will have the authority to withdraw money from your accounts, pay bills, take distributions from your IRAs, sell stocks, and refinance your home.  

In addition to planning for the financial aspect of your affairs during incapacity, you should establish a plan for your medical care. The law allows you to appoint someone you trust  to make decisions on your behalf about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide for yourself. You can do this by using an advance health care directive (formerly known as a durable power of attorney for healthcare). This document is used to give instructions concerning end-of-life medical care for terminal illness, organ donation, and other personal matters should the person making the directive no longer be able to communicate on their own (for example, if they are in a coma). 

Avoiding Probate
If you leave your estate to your loved ones using a will, everything you own will pass through probate. The process is time-consuming and open to the public. The probate court is in control of the process until the estate has been settled and distributed. If you are married and have children, you want to make certain that your surviving family has immediate access to cash to pay for living expenses while your estate is being settled. It is not unusual for the probate courts to freeze assets for weeks or even months while trying to determine the proper disposition of the estate. With proper planning, your assets can pass on to your loved ones without going through probate, in a manner that is quick, inexpensive, and private.
 
Providing for Minor Children
Your estate plan should address issues regarding the upbringing of your children. Your plan should designate who you’d like to manage your assets for your children, as well as the guardian you’d like to nominate to care for them. 

Please contact us for help with your estate planning needs. 
 


Pacific Elder Law is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and serve clients in Alameda County, San Francisco County, and Contra Costa County, including Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Emeryville, Piedmont, Hayward, San Francisco, El Cerrito, Richmond, Martinez, Hercules, Lafayette, Orinda and Walnut Creek.



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| Phone: 510-852-9392
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| Phone: 415-552-0113

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