Five days after a hit-and-run accident on Vaca Valley Parkway, a bicyclist has been released from the hospital. He was riding his bicycle when a young woman ran a stop sign on Crystal Springs Drive and struck him. The victim sustained contusions and road rash, which he believed were the extent of his injuries. However, after returning home and taking a shower, he soon realized he was having trouble breathing. When he returned to the hospital, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic respiratory arrest.
Things to remember in your estate planning
As with many legal matters, an estate planning attorney has his or her share of horror stories from years of working with clients to create an estate plan. Whether it is issues relating to property ownership or family disputes over a loved one’s estate, problems in passing on an estate are very common.
Don’t rely on family to figure it all out after your death
Unfortunately, most clients assume that their children or beneficiaries will be willing and civilized enough to work things out on their own. Consequently, many people believe they don’t need to have a formal estate plan. Or, if they do have a plan, they fail to consider all of the issues that may potentially arise. The truth is, even the most basic estate plan can be quite helpful in avoiding family conflict.
You should include a Will or Trust in your estate plan
Regardless of how much property you may have, you should consider hiring an estate planning attorney to draft a proper will or trust for you. That way, you can ensure that your family, and the court, has a clear roadmap for how you want your estate handled. Always remember that the value of an asset is not always seen in terms of money. Some property will have more of a sentimental value. Discuss the value of certain assets with your family ahead of time to avoid problems in the future, if you leave that property to the “wrong” person.
Your children may not be able to agree on how to divide your property
Never rely entirely on your expectation that your children will be able to decide who gets what. In many cases, money and property can divide a family quicker than anything else. You should not assume that your family will simply accept every provision you include in your will or trust. Do your best to discuss potential areas of conflict with them while you are still able to do so.
Discuss the benefits of a trust with your Sacramento estate planning attorney
You should discuss with your estate planning attorney whether you should have a trust instead of a will. If you do, then you need to select an appropriate trustee to manage your trust, someone who will make an appropriate fiduciary. That means some who can be trusted.
You need help creating your trust
Trusts are usually complicated estate planning instruments which, if not handled properly, may not be valid. The best thing to do is seek the assistance of an estate planning attorney who will understand the tax and other consequences and benefits of the various types of trusts. Also, do not forget to name a successor trustee along with your primary trustee. There are various reasons your chosen trustee may not be able to serve in that capacity in the future.
You also should include a durable power of attorney
Understand that a durable power of attorney can benefit anyone, regardless of your socioeconomic status. The possibility of incapacity is always there. Just in case, you need to choose a trusted friend, associate, or family member to have power of attorney over your affairs in case you become incapacitated. A health care power of attorney, just like a financial power of attorney, gives your agent the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf.
A spouse can’t always take over automatically
Do not assume that your spouse will simply take over and handle things for you if you become incapacitated. It is possible that your spouse won’t be available. For instance, if you are both injured in a car accident and both are incapacitated then you will need someone to handle your affairs. If at all possible, your financial power of attorney and your healthcare power of attorney should not be the same person. That way, no one person will have nearly complete control over your future.
Why you need a Sacramento estate planning attorney
When it comes to planning for your future and your family’s future, the advice of an estate planning attorney can be irreplaceable. Your Estate planning attorney can provide you with the guidance you need to make all of the important choices that are necessary. Your attorney can describe all of your options and help you decide what tools are best for accomplishing your goals.
Download our FREE estate planning checklist today! If you have questions regarding wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, or any other estate planning tools, contact the Northern California Center for Estate Planning and Elder Law for a consultation, either online or by calling us at (916) 437-3500.