The Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, APC is an estate planning firm that specializes in creating custom estate plans for its clients. Many people are unaware of what an estate plan is and what the various components of an estate plan are. An estate plan is, in fact, a compilation of numerous different documents, each of which is meant to serve a unique function and assist the clients either today or at some point in the future.
It's important to understand how these different documents work together because they are each essential to a proper estate plan. Typically, the most critical part of any estate plan is the Revocable Living Trust which you can read more about on our website. The main idea behind the Revocable Living Trust is to allow you to transfer assets to your loved ones after you pass away without subjecting your loved ones to probate. In California, probate is a process that many people should seek to avoid because of the burdensome time, cost and hassle associated with it. You can read more about Probate on our website.
The second most common item in the estate plan is the Pour Over Will. This document works in conjunction with an individual's revocable living trust and allows you to designate where personal belongings will go after you pass away (i.e. jewelry, furniture and other personal belongings). It is particularly important for those who have minor children, as it allows the parents of minor children to designate who would be the guardian over the minor children in the event the parent(s) pass away.
The third item is the power of attorney for finances. For most people, unfortunately, having a trust and a will is simply not enough. The power of attorney for financial matters is meant to deal with a period of incapacity which typically is the result of some form of mental illness (i.e. dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, etc.). This document allows you to name someone to assist you should you ever be in an incapacitated state and you could read more about powers of attorney on our website.
Finally, there is the Advance Medical Directive, also referred to as a power of attorney for healthcare, which allows you to designate someone to make healthcare decisions for you should you be unable to make them for yourself. Again, this is a power of attorney that deals with a period of incapacity in your lifetime and it is distinct and separate from the power of attorney for finances discussed above.
You can read about each of these components of an estate plan in depth on our website and if you have any questions about your existing estate plan or if you are contemplating creating an estate plan for yourself for the first time, please call our office at (714) 459-5481 – our experienced attorneys would be glad to assist you and answer any questions that you may have.