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Get to know the cornerstones of an estate plan

If you are delving into estate planning for the first time, you may be unfamiliar with the necessary legal documents. These estate planning tools protect your assets and preserve your wishes for the next generation.

Get started on your estate planning journey with these key items.

Durable power of attorney

By creating a durable power of attorney, you give a trusted person the right to make important decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. You may name one person for your finances and another person for your medical care, or the same person could handle both areas.

Advance health care directive

You may have heard the term living will, which is actually an advance health care directive. This document details your wishes for medical care if you become mentally or physically incapacitated. You can decide on the life-saving measures that you want in a dire situation, including but not limited to CPR, artificial resuscitation, artificial nutrition and hydration, pain relief, and comfort care.

Pour-over will

A will provides your survivors with information about dividing your property. With a pour-over will, your assets immediately transfer to a previously established trust upon your death. The trustee will have the power to distribute these assets to your intended beneficiaries.

If you have dependents, including minor children or older parents who live with you, your will can make a plan for custody of those individuals. You can also establish a trust fund that the guardian will receive to provide for their care.

Revocable trust

A revocable living trust works hand-in-hand with a pour-over will to smooth the distribution of your estate assets and lower the risk of legal challenges. With a revocable trust, you retain control over the assets until your death and can amend the trust at any time. The combination of a revocable trust and a pour-over will allows many estates in California to avoid probate.

You are never too young to start planning your estate. Doing so will provide peace of mind and create a lasting legacy.