A Last Will and Testament is a great estate planning tool, but there are certain things it won’t accomplish. To begin with, a Last Will and Testament only comes into effect after you’ve passed away – it cannot be used to handle any of your financial or medical affairs while you’re alive, even if you’re completely incapacitated.
In order to have proper estate planning protection while you’re alive, San Fernando wills and trusts lawyers suggest that you have a Power of Attorney document that names individuals to handle your financial affairs in case you become incapacitated and a Healthcare Directive to make your medical wishes known to family and medical staff, as well as to name an agent or agents to make medical decisions for you if you are unable.
San Fernando wills and trusts lawyers also warn their clients that there are certain limitations to a Last Will and Testament even after death. For example, a Last Will and Testament will not allow your estate to avoid the Los Angeles County probate process, nor can it add provisions and conditions to inheritances or reduce the amount of estate taxes owed by the estate.
However, certain types of trusts, including Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts, can help with all of these issues. Assets that are held in the name of a trust do not have to go through the process, which will save your loved ones time and money, as well as protect the privacy of your estate. You can also set terms and conditions on inheritances, especially if you are leaving assets to minors under 18 or even adults under 25. Depending on the type of trust you have, a trust can also help to reduce the estate taxes you may owe to the federal or state government.
In order to accomplish all of your estate planning goals, it’s important to discuss them with a wills and trusts lawyer in the San Fernando Valley to discover what kind of estate planning will be the most beneficial for your individual situation. While a Last Will and Testament alone might offer you some protection, a complete estate plan with a Power of Attorney, Living Will, and a Revocable or Irrevocable Trust working in conjunction with each other will afford you the best protection possible.
If you have any questions about setting up an estate plan, or if you already have an estate plan but would like to have it reviewed, please contact our Encino wills and trusts law firm at (818) 905-6088 to set up a consultation.