Thinking about one’s own mortality can be difficult. There are some people who believe you don’t need to think about it. The things we leave behind will not be of concern to us after we die—our assets will become someone else’s responsibility. But it’s important to prepare for the unexpected. In the event of an accident or a serious illness, one could be unable to function independently but still be alive. If this is the case, it would be far better if you selected someone to supervise your care and make decisions for you.
Basic estate planning includes a will, powers of attorney, health care directives, and, in some cases, a trust. As important as these documents are for carrying out your wishes upon death, they are equally important during incapacity as well. You should consult a qualified attorney once you have taken inventory of your assets and considered your ultimate wishes.
Upon your passing or incapacity (e.g., injury or illness), the State of California has procedures in place for dealing with your property and assets. The plans in place may not achieve your objectives, and they are likely to be costly. In addition to being expensive and time-consuming, probate and court intervention to take control of an incapacitated person’s assets can be complex and add to costs. By making an estate plan, you minimize the burden your loved ones will face when you die or become incapacitated.
There are many questions for one to consider…
- If you are incapable of making your own health decisions, is it important to you to stay at home for as long as possible? Would you rather spend your money on 24-hour nursing at home or on an assisted living facility? Would you want a feeding tube, life support, and extraordinary efforts to keep you alive if you were unconscious and unlikely to recover consciousness?
- If you are unable to make financial decisions, write checks, etc., who would you trust to do that for you? You don’t want to be put in the position to lose your property because you couldn’t write checks for a few months.
- In terms of estate administration, who would you like to act on your behalf? if you do not choose anyone, your estate could be administered by a distant unknown relative or a court-appointed attorney.
- After your death, your assets will be distributed by default under the laws of state probate unless you have left instructions otherwise. Identifying and finding heirs can be very complicated for the estate administrator. If they die before you or cannot be found, your property will likely end up in the California general fund. Instead, you might want to select a specific school or charity you would like the funds to benefit?
The person you choose for these duties will be compensated from your estate. Moreover, many people would consider it an honor to be chosen and would be touched by the opportunity to help. To ensure that everything you have accumulated, and everything you will accumulate, benefits the people, charities, or causes that are dear to your heart, a comprehensive estate plan is an effective and affordable way to do so. Don’t wait to build your legacy. The control belongs to you. At Hamlin | Cody we can help you see your plans through. Give us a call at (310) 216-2165, to Get Acquainted!