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What are the key aspects of an estate plan?

While every individual has a unique situation, most people need an estate plan with several key elements. Understanding these items can help you craft a plan that allows your heirs to fulfill your wishes.

Review the important aspects of estate planning for California residents.

Revocable trust

With a revocable trust, your estate can avoid probate in California for all assets transferred to the ownership of the trust. You name a trustee who will manage these assets after you die and distribute them to your intended beneficiaries. You can change the terms of a revocable trust whenever you wish.

Pour-over will

Individuals who have a revocable trust typically opt for a pour-over will. This legal document allows you to establish beneficiaries for any assets not transferred into your revocable trust. Simply establishing a trust without a will may subject some property to the California laws for inheritance rather than your wishes.

Durable power of attorney

This document gives someone else the power to handle your legal or financial matters if you become incapacitated and cannot do so. You can create a limited POA that covers specific items only or a general POA that gives a trusted person broader power to act on your behalf.

Advance health care directive

With this document, you can establish the types of medical care you want to receive in an emergency in case you cannot make your wishes known. Also called a living will, an advance directive covers life-saving measures such as artificial feeding and respiration as well as pain-relief measures, treatments and organ donation.

With these documents, you will have the foundation of a solid estate plan in California.