Santa Cruz Estate Planning Attorney

What is an Estate Plan?

Estate planning is more than just figuring out who gets your property when you die. It is our way of making sure our wishes and decisions are respected even though we cannot make them known. This includes making property decisions; minimized estate taxes and fees associated with administering your estate; making your health care choices known and appointing a guardian for your children. Exploring our own mortality may be uncomfortable and unsettling, but without doing so we can never make these important decisions.

What Documents make up an Estate Plan?

Generally an estate plan includes two types of documents. The first is your distribution instruments and the second is documents that grant power of attorney.

The first type of document to distribute your assets may be a Wills and Trusts. Wills are relatively simple document that can be used to distribute your assets and nominate a guardian for your minor children. For many estates, a Living Trust offers a more efficient means of distributing your assets. A living trust offers numerous benefits that can help you avoid probate, minimize estate taxes and it gives additional flexibility when planning how to distribute your assets.

The second type of document granting powers of attorney includes an Advanced Health Care Directive and a Durable Powers of Attorney. Both documents make sure somebody has the authority to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. The Advanced Health Care Directive names and agent to make health care decisions for you and gives them specific instructions to follow. The Durable Power of Attorney gives somebody the authority to pay your bills and handle your financial affairs should you become unable to do so.

We will sit down with you and discuss the benefits of each document and tailor them to meet your specific needs. For more specific information about each document please read the specific link.

What does an Estate Plan do for you?

Everybody that comes to me has different motivation for wanting to start an estate plan. Some are worried about their young children. Others are facing illness and want to make sure everything is in order. Some are worried probate or taxes will eat away their property before it can be gifted to their children.

The most important thing an estate plan can do for you is give you peace of mind. Making sure that special family heirloom ends up in the right hands. Making sure you if something happens to you and you end up in the hospital for 2 months that somebody will be there to manage your life. Taking the time to appoint a guardian for your minor children.

If you do not take the time to create an estate plan you are inviting others to make these decisions. A judge who does know you or your family will divide your assets according to statute and appoint a guardian for you children. Taking the time to pass down the history and heritage of our families can be as simple as making sure our property ends up in the hands of people who care for it as much as we did. It is a shame to forfeit our ability to make these choices because we never took the time to let our wishes be known.

Estate planning offers many other benefits to you during your life and your heirs after your death. I will help you explore your options and make decisions that best meet your needs and those of your loved ones.