What is Estate Planning?

Most people consider estate planning a legal process for the wealthy, but the fact is that everyone needs an estate directive. Regardless of wealth, everyone has certain issues that could arise in the event of a timely event. It is important that everyone is prepared in the case of a tragedy, and having a valid will and legal directive in place can solve many of the uncertainties. When individuals die unexpectedly intestate, which is the legal term for passing away without a will, the individual’s assets and liabilities are divided according to state law. This includes everything from placing minor dependent children in a proper home to distributing personal assets to all creditors who file a valid creditor claim against the decedent’s estate. All actions of the court are made according to state law unless there is a valid will established by the decedent that serves as an advance directive used by the court in making final determinations.

General Directives

Estate planning is more than merely naming who you would like to inherit particular assets, especially for young people with dependent children. Never assume the state will assign guardianship of dependent children directly to your parents or surviving family members. Dependent children could easily be to assigned to a foster home in the event of the death of a parent. A valid estate plan does not only provide for the wishes of the decedent but also will assign a power of attorney for situations of incapacity that allows the designated individual to act.

Asset Protection

One of the primary goals of comprehensive estate planning will assuredly include protection of personal assets by having them pass outside of probate. For individuals with significant wealth, this is normally done by establishing a trust that transfers personal and real property to the designated beneficiaries. Life insurance policies that name a beneficiary are also considered the property of the beneficiary and will not be included in the inventory of personal assets during the probate process. These types of decisions are important, and it is always a good legal step to discuss these issues with an estate planning attorney who can anticipate what problems may arise in the event of an unforeseen tragedy.

Anyone in California who does not have a will in place should contact the estate professionals at Temmerman, Cilley and Kohlmann for a full evaluation of your personal estate needs.