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What Is Estate Planning and Why Is It Important?

What Is Estate Planning and Why Is It Important?

Estate planning may seem like a process that is only necessary for the extremely wealthy. In reality, it can benefit anyone, regardless of their economic status. Estate plans often encompass medical care, the division of assets, and end-of-life decision-making. Though it may be difficult to think about or discuss, having a detailed plan in place to manage your end-of-life affairs has many advantages. You can designate who will retain your assets and also define the medical care and treatments you wish to receive. A comprehensive estate plan can provide peace of mind for you while also protecting your loved ones.

Understanding what goes into the development and creation of an estate plan can be daunting. No two estate plans are the same, and knowing what can or should be included can feel overwhelming. The experience and expertise of a trusted California trust and estate attorney can make the process easier and ensure that your assets are protected. Attorney Robert G. Petrovich has over four decades of experience and is ready to guide you through the estate planning process.

What Is an Estate Plan?

Simply put, an estate plan guarantees that your wishes are followed at the end of your life. Estate plans include documentation about many different aspects of your life, such as medical care, assets, and power of attorney.

Why Is an Estate Plan Important?

There are many benefits to creating an estate plan for yourself. Establishing a thorough plan well before the end of your life can save your family members a great deal of avoidable stress and conflicts. Some of the major benefits of estate plans are:

  • Protection of Assets. If you do not have clear and binding legal documentation of who will receive or control your assets upon your death, then they may be lost in the probate process. Creating a personalized estate plan ensures that your most important and cherished assets are bequeathed to whom you wish.
  • Family Protection. Creating and finalizing a robust plan reduces the risk of your family facing significant emotional and financial hardships. Documenting your wishes for medical care or the division of your assets removes the burden of doubt and decision-making from your relatives. Making medical decisions for a loved one with minimal guidance can be harrowing. Additionally, the legal battles associated with dividing unclaimed assets can be costly and stressful. Establishing your wishes ahead of time guarantees that your family is protected and able to focus on navigating their loss in the event of your death.
  • Tax Breaks for Heirs. Navigating the division of assets when there is no estate plan in place can be costly, and your loved ones may lose some assets to taxes. Planning your estate helps to shield those who will inherit your assets from unnecessary tax payments.

Whether you have minimal assets or a significant estate to organize, developing an estate plan is an important task. You can rest assured that your family will receive specifically what you allot to them and that your medical care is handled as you wish.

What Is Included in an Estate Plan?

There is no single correct way to create an estate plan, but there are various matters that can be addressed in a fully developed estate plan. They typically include documentation for medical care, power of attorney, and the division of property and assets. Some of the most common documents in an estate plan include:

  • Trusts: legally binding agreements that you can put in place to determine who will control your assets upon your death so that they are distributed correctly.
  • Living Wills: legal documents that detail your wishes for medical care in the event that you are incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself.
  • Last Will and Testament: a legal document that outlines how your assets and possessions will be distributed. It also allows you to designate who will be responsible for caring for any children, dependents, or pets.
  • Life Insurance policies: these can be included in an estate plan as a way to help relieve any financial burden your death places on your loved ones.
  • Beneficiary Forms: document who will receive the payment from any assets. These often allow the beneficiary to avoid probate and receive the full amount they are due.
  • Medical and Financial Power of Attorney: designations that grant an individual the power to make significant decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself.

There is no cut-and-dry way to create an estate plan. Some of the above documents may be essential to your estate plan, but you may choose to exclude others. This list is not all-inclusive, and you may find other matters that need to be documented in your estate plan. It is most important to determine which aspects of your plan are crucial to your loved ones and develop an estate plan to protect them.

What Is the Cost of Creating an Estate Plan?

The cost associated with developing an estate plan will vary depending on your needs. Those with larger estates or a varied collection of assets may want to involve attorneys and financial advisors. Doing so ensures that all required documentation is handled properly. The cost of working with these experts will depend on their rates and how much assistance is needed.

Regardless of the size of your estate, working with an experienced and knowledgeable estate attorney makes the process much easier. It also provides you with confidence that your assets and family are safeguarded as you develop your estate plan.

Contact a Trusted Estate Lawyer

Navigating the process of estate planning can be difficult, but working with a qualified and seasoned attorney can reduce the amount of stress and worry that often comes with estate planning. Attorney Robert G. Petrovich has been helping clients establish trusts and estate plans in California for almost five decades. With his years of experience, he can guide you through the estate planning process with ease.

Attorney Robert G. Petrovich will work closely with you and your loved ones to ensure that every part of your estate plan meets your needs. Contact us today to start developing your personalized estate plan.

Call Today For More Information

Call 626-792-5955 (*must dial 1 plus 626 area code) or contact us online
to arrange a confidential consultation.

Based in San Marino (near Pasadena), Mr. Petrovich handles estate planning, probate, business law, real estate, and other legal matters throughout the San Gabriel Valley.