Where there is a Will there is a way!
Most people think of wills as the only way to transfer property upon death, however, there are several instruments one can use to transfer property to loved ones upon their passing. First, let’s understand that even I you do not execute a will your property will pass to your heirs – despite the commonly held belief that property will pass to the “state” the law of intestacy requires that property pass to your “heir(s)-at-law”.
If you want your estate to pass to certain people then you must place those directions in writing. If you put your desires in writing you can distribute your estate to anyone you wish. Every given week, I have people that come into my office, for reasons all their own choose to give their estate to charities which is perfectly acceptable given that their desire to do so is placed in writing.
When deciding what kind of document to execute numerous factors must be considered. There are several paths estate planning can take. One is to simply do nothing and let the law of intestacy take effect which passes your property to your heir-at-law. Second, is to execute a will designating whom or what entity shall inherit your estate. Third, would be to execute a Trust (also called a living trust). Each path has positives and negatives.
In addition to the document that transfers your property, you may need a Health Care Directive, a POLST, Power of Attorney, Beneficiary designations, or other legal documents to facilitate the transfer of property upon your death.
In order to plan your estate you will need to gather and think about the following: Who will manage the estate upon your death, who will make your medical decisions in the event you are unable to do so, a guardian for your children, what assets you want to given to whom, the need for life insurance, if your beneficiary designations are correct, gather copies of any deeds along with any other related items. Once you have considered the above you should make an appointment with an Estate Planning or Probate Attorney (most attorneys offer a free estate planning consultation) to discuss your particular situation and concerns. Every estate is different and may require different documents.
The key to estate planning is information. However, time plays an important role as well. Once you become ill or lose capacity or worse, it is too late to plan your estate and the law will do it for you. Rest easy that the State won’t get it – they have enough money issues as it is!
Jeremiah Raxter, Esq
27851 Bradley Rd, Suite 145
Menifee, Ca 92586