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Estate Planning in California - Documents in Our Standard Estate Plans

Estate Planning Introduction to Your Estate Plan: Exactly as it sounds, these pages review some general information that may seem like repitition upon first receiving your tailor-made Estate Plan from our offices, however, these pages are meant to assist you when it comes time to putting your plan into action.

Estate Planning Certification of Trust: This is a summary of the most important provisions of your Living Trust. Many financial institutions will ask to see proof that your trust exists, and this Certification of Trust will suffice in most cases.

Estate Planning Revocable Living Trust: This is the most important document of your estate plan. As discussed, in general terms, your living trust is like a proverbial container in which you put everything you own. And you lose nothing at all, because you control and own the proverbial container that owns and contols everything you own. And you gain so many important tools, such as strict control over which assets (or things you own) go to which beneficiaries, upon any contingencies you can imagine, which are transferred to your beneficiaries by your designated Trustee, and not the slow-moving court system. Because it is Revocable, you can make changes any time you want, put in new property, take out old property, change your beneficiary designations and or gifts, or completely revoke and terminate the living trust. It is as flexible as you can imagine it to be.

Estate Planning Last Wills and Testaments: This is an equally important document of your estate plan if you have any minor children or some very specific last wishes. For most other people, the Last Will and Testament of the Estate Plan is more or less a "Pour-Over Will," with the important provision that pours over anything you own not specifically in your living trust, into your living trust, unless you have some specific distributions in mind that you can easily define in your Will as well. For people creating a Small Estate Plan the Last Will and Testament is the most important document of the Small Estate Plan, where you will determine all of your beneficiaries, and also which beneficiaries get what. You will also specify any other last wishes in this document.

Estate Planning Durable Powers of Attorney for Finances: This document becomes necessary if you are ever legally incapacitated. The legal definition can be quite wordy, so it is easiest to think about in the example of the coma patient. John has been in a coma for two years. Because John prepared a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, John's agent was able to access John's bank accounts and pay John's bills, especially his mortgages. Also John's agent heard through his broker about the stability of certain investments, and was able to successfully invest John's money. A Durable Power of Attorney is necessary for the above example, and should be contemplated in situations beyond this simple coma example. It can become a very important document, and is included in our standard estate plans. It can also be thought of as protection for the time between incapacity and passing away. As sad as it is to say, even when you're too sick to stand, or even be conscious, you will still have all of your responsibilities. Make sure your responsibilities remain taken care of via an agent you appoint in your Durable Power of Attorney.

Estate Planning Advance Health Care Directives: The most imporant part of this document is where you determine whether you will be kept alive by extraordinary measures, or you simply choose to pass away without. We understand that this is a difficult decision to contemplate, especially when you are healthy and cannot even imagine your worst possible health scenarios, and for this reason our offices can prepare this document for you to mark your decision in the future, either after you have given the question years of thought, you have recently been diagnosed, or your health is starting to fail. Perhaps just as important, you will determine whether you will make gifts of your body via this Advance Health Care Directive as well.

Estate Planning Transfer Documents: Our offices will also prepare and file, submit or request to be acted upon, two sets of transfer documents. Examples include: Two Grant Deeds for Property, One Grant Deed and One Stock Transfer Assignment, One Grant Deed and One Intellectual Property Assignment, One Grant Deed and One Amendment to an LLC Operating Agreement, etc.

Estate Planning Instructions for Grantor and Trustee: These informational documents provide information for the Grantor, the creator of the Living Trust and also for the Trustee and any successor trustees. It includes of instructions, some to be acted upon immediately, some to be acted upon by specified dates or occurrences. The Instructions for the Successor Trustee detail some of the instructions for actions that the Trustee will need to take. Our offices are always available for Trustee consultations.

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