Before we answer that question let’s ask and answer an ever more basic question, “What is an Estate?”. An estate is all of the property that you own in your personal name at the time of your passing. That can consist of personal property like a car, jewelry, or a bank account; or it can be real property like a house, a condominium, or vacant land. Anything that is in your name at the time you pass away is what makes up your estate.
When we talk about Estate Planning, a large part of the discussion does go towards providing for those types of things, but a full estate plan is so much more than just providing for material assets!
An Estate Plan is really an umbrella term that covers all of the parts and pieces that we put together to protect you and your assets while you’re alive, designate who will take care of you and your children in the event you cannot do it on your own, and ensure that your property passes on to your loved ones exactly how you want it to, and in a way that’s most beneficial to them.
The basic parts of any estate plan include a Will, Advance Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney, and a Trust, when needed, which in California is quite often. What makes up your estate plan may be a little bit different. It may include items like an assignment of economic rights for a business interest; forming an LLC or Corporation to protect assets not otherwise currently protected; specialized trusts for creditor, tax, or special needs concerns, etc. The important part is, everyone needs an estate plan, but what makes up your individualized estate plan may be a little different than the next persons.
When we talk about estate planning from a bigger picture, it also includes working with a qualified tax professional and financial advisor now to retain as much value as possible within your estate and take steps to grow the value to the largest amount possible.
If you’d like to learn what needs to be part of your individualized estate plan based upon your wishes, goals, and financial picture, contact our office today to schedule your free strategy session.