Your estate plan is the key to a less stressful situation. Every person, regardless of their net worth and age, needs comprehensive estate planning to ensure that their individual wishes are accounted for and that their family has been appropriately provided for. Death, unfortunately, is inevitable and many people suffer the additional challenge of becoming incapacitated at some point in their life.
If you become incapacitated, do you have a plan in place for who is able to make decisions on your behalf? Without an estate plan, the courts and the governments are the ones who will exercise decision making power as it relates to assets inside your estate.
This includes who will become the guardian of any minor children you have and who is eligible to inherit your assets based on state set rules. These statutes are designed to empower the government to determine what your estate plan should look like and it is very rare that this structure will coincide with your own intentions or desires. It is critical to have an estate plan in place by thinking about the many different components that go into it, including:
- Appointment of guardians and trustees for minor children.
- Beneficiary designations.
- Designation of agents to support in the event of incapacity.
- Designation of a health care agent.
- Beneficiary protection through a trust.
- Beneficiary protection from divorcing spouses and creditors.
- Appointment of the person to administer your estate.
- Minimizing income and estate taxes.
- Charitable contributions.
- Avoiding probate.
All of these goals can be accomplished by sitting down with a Pasadena estate planning lawyer to discuss how these affect you individually. You might have different goals from other colleagues or family members, but you need a plan that will grow and evolve with you.