There is a major misconception about estate planning. That is: estate planning isn’t for everyone. It’s easy to understand why this incorrect notion has made the rounds. It’s something that we all think about when it comes to assets. There are people who believe that because they don’t own multiple properties, have millions of dollars in the bank, or expensive jewels hidden in a safe that they don’t need one. That’s why we’ve created this post about estate planning basics. We want everyone to understand the basics of the process, what an estate plan actually does, and how it can help families get through the California probate process.
What Is an Estate Plan?
We’re going to boil this down to the nuts and bolt. An estate plan is a set of instructions you create in advance that direct how you want your property distributed after you die. However, it can also do a lot more than that:
- Name guardians for minor children or disabled adult children
- Name a trustee for property you’d like to pass on to your minor children or use to take care of your disabled adult child
- Take care of your disabled adult child or other individual without affecting their government benefits
- Provide for family members who aren’t good with money
- Instruct that life insurance and estate proceeds be used to care for your family
- Reduce the possibility of estate taxes, court costs, and legal fees
Who Should Have an Estate Plan?
The short answer is everyone. It’s not for people who are retired or thinking about retirement. It’s not just for the rich and famous. It’s not just for the wealthy. It is for everyone. The fact is that none of us know how long we have on earth. An estate plan is a tool we can use to explain our wishes for caring for minor children, adult disabled children, and what we want to do with our assets. The assets could be your home, your bank account, your car, or your book collection.
If you think about it, families that have few assets or modest assets definitely need an estate plan. Your family will need everything within the estate to get through your death and continue on with their life. An estate plan is the best way for you to protect what you do have specifically for that purpose.
What Happens If You Die Without One?
If you die without an estate plan, the State of California will make decisions for you. The probate court will decide how your assets are given out, who will oversee the administration of your estate, and what will happen to your children. Those usually aren’t decisions that people want the State to make on their behalf.
How an Estate Plan Helps During the California Probate Process
An estate plan explains to the California probate court what your wishes are for your assets and your family. It allows you to appoint someone to administer your assets. Since it guides the court, an estate plan can make the California probate process easier on your family.
If you’re an heir waiting for a distribution from an estate plan, we may be able to help you collect sooner. To learn more, answer a few questions through our chatbot below or follow this link to start your free case evaluation.