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Davis Estate Planning and Probate Blog

California health care directives: DNH

Many people have heard of a do not resuscitate order. It is one of many health care directives available to California residents who want to have a say in how they die and what, if any, medical interventions are to be utilize to prolong life. Few, however, have heard of a DNH order.

Not everyone wants to live out what is left of their lives in a hospital bed, being subjected to medical tests and invasive procedures. There are those who would rather spend their final days at home or somewhere more comfortable to them. Unfortunately, many end up in the hospital because their family members do not know what else to do and insurance will pay for it, or at least part of it.

Trusts to protect fur babies

Many California residents are dog lovers. Who can blame them? Dogs can be loyal, loving creatures who are often treated like members of the family. What will happen to these fur babies when their owners die or are no longer able to care for them? Believe it or not, pet trusts can be created so that animals continue to receive all that they need in such situations.

Why might one want to consider a pet trust? Being able to set specific instructions for funding pet care can give peace of mind. By handing over a pet to just anyone, along with a big chunk of change, there are no guarantees that the money will actually be used to provide for the pet.

How can an attorney help me through the probate process?

Closing out a loved one's estate in California or elsewhere can be an overwhelming task. There are a lot of little details that require attention, and any mistakes made along the way could cost the executor and beneficiaries in the long run. If probate is necessary, which is likely in most cases, you may not know where to start or what to do. Thankfully, this is not something you have to tackle alone.

Going through the probate process in order to close out an estate can be rather time-consuming. The executor is responsible for making sure all assets are accounted for, beneficiaries and creditors are notified of the decedent's death, taxes get paid and any claims made against the estate are addressed. As you can imagine, a number of legal issues can arise in doing all of this. If you are not familiar with state laws, it can be difficult to know how to handle them.

Are living wills and powers of attorney the same thing?

Figuring out which estate planning documents one actually needs can be a bit of a challenge. Part of this is because some of these documents seem to serve the same purposes. Regardless of how similar some of the protections offered are, each estate planning document has been designed for a specific reason. One does not replace the other. For instance, some California residents may be confused about the differences between living wills and powers of attorney.

A living will is an advance directive of sorts. In this document one leaves instructions regarding how his or her medical and/or financial affairs are to be handled in the event of incapacitation. This provides direction for one's personal representative so that decisions are made based on one's wants and wishes.

Delve a little deeper into different trust types

Protecting your loved ones after you pass away is something that many people think about. You might decide to create your estate plan to help you do this. However, you should understand that not all estate plan components are created equally when it comes to making sure that your loved ones will get what you wan them to get.

Trusts play an important role in many estate plans, but you have to make sure that you choose the trust that is appropriate for the situation and purpose that you have in mind. Learning about a few basics of trust might help you along the way. It can also help to ensure that the trusts you include in your estate plan do what you want them to do.

Estate planning is not just for older adults

Those who are young and still trying to get established don't typically think of the need to put together an estate plan. The truth is, though, estate planning is not just for older adults. Millennials in California and elsewhere can also benefit from having certain legal protections in place in the event of their deaths or incapacitation.

According to a recent survey, 78 percent of adults in America between the ages of 18 and 36 have not taken the time to set up wills and/or trusts. Why is this? Some do not feel financially stable or feel that they can afford to create these legal documents and others feel that they are not necessary at the moment -- among various other reasons.

Before probate administration can begin, take inventory

Being named the executor of an estate can be overwhelming. There is a lot to take care of in order to make sure an estate is distributed properly and that taxes and creditors are appropriately paid. If one has not been through this before it can be difficult to know where to begin. To make the process easier, the first thing an executor should do before filing a case in a California probate court is to take inventory of assets, debts and legal documents.

Why is taking inventory so important? Think about it -- if businesses did not take inventory on a regular basis, items may slip through the cracks and they could end up losing money and hurting their bottom lines. If an executor fails to take inventory, beneficiaries may suffer as the estate may not be fully or properly administered.

Have minor children? Appoint a guardian when estate planning

When preparing one's estate, there are so many little and big things to consider that it can feel overwhelming. Going it alone is not necessarily the wisest choice, as items of significant importance may be overlooked. For example, if one has minor children, naming a guardian is the best way to ensure that they are raised by someone that one trusts. Appointing guardianship of minor children is something that parents in California can do during the estate planning process.

Why name a guardian? What is the role of a guardian? Is this a permanent position? These are just a few of the many questions one might have before naming someone to this role.

Estate planning for people with no children

Many people may wonder what the point is of creating estate plans if they do not have any children or other heirs to which they want to pass on their assets. This is a reasonable thought. However, estate planning is something that all California residents can benefit from; it is not meant just for those who have kids.

Whether by personal choice or a lack of opportunity, numerous people do not have children. Some may even not have close friends or family members to whom they want to pass on assets or feel are trustworthy to handle their estates as desired. While this may be the case, it does not mean that such individuals want the court to decide to where their assets will go. Unfortunately, this is what will happen if one dies without a will or other estate planning documents in place.

Estate plans require more than just a will

Thinking about your estate plan is something that many people avoid because they don't think that it is necessary right away. However, all adults should take steps to get their estate plan together.

Your estate plan is more than just telling your loved ones what they will receive when you pass away. In fact, your estate plan should have components that might help you during your final days. Consider these four components of an estate plan when you are ready to start working on your plan.

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