5 Elements of a Good Estate Plan

7:39 pm Estate Planning

estate planning image 284x250 150x150 5 Elements of a Good Estate PlanIf you’ve already made a will, that’s a good start in creating your estate plan…but it’s only a start.  There are actually at least five elements of a good estate plan:

1.  Will.  You need a will to spell out who will receive your property once you die, to appoint a trusted person to carry out your wishes and to name a guardian for your minor children.  A will covers probate property only – there are many other types of property like retirement accounts, bank accounts, life insurance benefits and more that pass outside probate, which is why you need more than a will.

2.  Trust.  One of the most common reasons to set up a trust is to avoid the expense and delay of probate and protect your privacy.  Any property placed in a trust will pass directly to your beneficiaries upon your death.

3.  Advance Medical Directives.   These critical documents appoint someone to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so, and can include a living will which details the medical treatment you wish to receive if you are terminally ill or in a vegetative state.

4.  Powers of Attorney.  Having a designated power of attorney – which appoints someone to act on your behalf in case of incapacitation for either financial or health care matters – helps you avoid having the court appoint a guardian or conservator.

5.  Beneficiary Designations.  If you do not name a beneficiary for your retirement accounts, distribution of those assets will be determined by state or federal law, which could have adverse tax consequences for beneficiaries.

To develop your comprehensive estate plan and protect your assets for loved ones, contact our Orange County law firm.

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