For individuals who are questioning whether or not to create an estate plan for themselves, it is normal to have a lot of questions. Maybe your friends and loved ones have begun making their own and you feel as though you should as well, but do not know where to start. Below are the top questions that estate planning attorneys field when helping clients decides how to plan their estate:
- What is estate planning? What does it mean? Estate planning is a way to legally make sure that your plans for your health care, your incapacity, your plans for your family and especially your young children, are all taken care of if you were to be harmed in some way where you couldn’t make decisions for yourself. It is also a way to guarantee your wishes are met if you were to unfortunately pass suddenly.
- Who should make an estate plan? Everyone typically needs an estate state plan, even if it is something such as an advance directive that tells people what you would want to happen if you were unable to make decisions for yourself. If you have minor children, you should include who would take care of them if something were to happen to you and your spouse or you and the children’s other parent. You should also consider who you would help to take care of your assets or delegate them to after your passing. So, really everyone needs an estate plan, but it can be especially very important for individuals with dependents like minor children, special needs children, etc.
- What is the difference between a will and a trust? A will is an estate state planning document that delegates your orders out in the event that you pass unexpectedly. A trust is similar, but can be upheld and edited while you are still alive. A trust is much more comprehensive because not only does it determine who you want to manage your assets and who you want your assets to go to, but you also get to say how you want those assets managed. With a trust, you can also determine if in the event something were to happen to you where you did not pass away but you are incapacitated, who could manage those assets and your bills.
- If I am a parent, what happens to my minor children if I don’t have a will or a trust? Who gets custody of them? In most states, if you have a child and the other parent is surviving, then the child automatically goes to the other parent. However, if both parents are deceased, the child will go to the nearest living stable family member.
- What happens to my estate plan after a divorce? If your current will includes you ex-spouse — as they often do — you’ll need to first start by revoking that will and creating a new one if you no longer wish that they remain a beneficiary. In doing that you may want to also outline a new plan for things like real estate beneficiaries, child custody, naming an executor, ect. Connecting with an estate planning lawyer, or coordinating between your family law lawyer and estate planning lawyer can be incredibly helpful in revising your final wishes post-divorce.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney
Do not hesitate to reach out to an estate planning lawyer to discuss the steps to creating an estate plan. He or she can walk you through the process and explain your specific state’s laws surrounding estate plans. An estate planning lawyer Sacramento CA residents recommend can help you with any questions. Before hiring an estate planning attorney, make a list of all of your most valued assets that you want to make sure are not left out of the estate plan.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Yee Law Group for their insight into Estate Planning.