When it comes to estate planning in Orange County, there seems to be no shortage of possibilities.  From specialized pet trusts to the probate process, there is so much to know.  It can be a bit overwhelming, which is why it’s time to narrow it down to the most important estate planning documents you need.  Keep in mind that this really should be a starting point, but if you work with your estate planning attorney in Orange County to get these five documents in order, you will be well on your way to setting up a full plan for your estate.

The Will

Whether you have very little or a huge estate to leave behind, it is a good idea to have a will in place. This is especially true if you have minor children or specific wishes as to what should happen to your things after you pass.  An estate planning lawyer can help you create a document that provides directions for how your estate should be distributed and can ensure that your special provisions are outlined, as well.

Living Will

Most everyone is aware of the concept of a will, but the “living” will is not as well known.  As part of an Advance Health Care Directive, this document is actually incredibly important because it lays out your express wishes when it comes to life-sustaining measures should you become seriously injured or terminally ill.  Your attorney will help you set up this document so that even if you are unable to speak or communicate your wishes at the time, you will already have them clearly outlined in your living will.  This also removes the burden from others who may suffer emotional distress having to make these decisions for you later.

Health Care Power of Attorney

Of course, if you become incapacitated, it is still important to have someone who can make medical decisions for you.  A health care power of attorney gives you the ability to name that person, rather than to have the courts appoint someone for you later.  The courts will likely appoint a spouse or parent, so if this is not your first choice, then the power of attorney is especially important.

Durable Power of Attorney

In addition to the health care power of attorney, you will want to name someone who can act on your behalf in other aspects.  Whether you need someone who can make decisions for your children or who can oversee your finances to ensure bills are being paid while you’re recuperating or while your estate is being dispersed, your lawyer will strongly recommend you have a durable power of attorney in place.

Revocable Living Trust

Perhaps the least recognized item on this list is the revocable living trust.  Estate planning lawyers in Orange County consider this document to be important enough to make it into the top five because it allows you to transfer assets into the trust in order to keep your financial affairs running, even if you are incapacitated.  In fact, the trust can even be used to maintain your estate after your death.  It also decreased the chance that your personal information will become public record and that you will be subject to the expenses and delays of the probate process.

The Peace of Mind of Being Prepared

While these 5 documents are important, the estate planning process is about so much more.  To fully experience the piece of mind knowing that your family, assets and wishes will stay protected—no matter what happens, give our Newport Beach office a call at (949) 260-1400 and ask to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session with the mention of this article.