Estate planning consists of the preparation of legal documents (wills, trusts, powers of attorneys) that carry out a person’s wishes upon the occurrence of certain events (death or incapacity).
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The estate planning allows a person to make advanced decisions upon the occurrence of certain events (ie. medical emergencies, long term physical or mental incapacity, death etc.). These decisions can take the form of selecting individuals who will make health care or financial decisions when the person is no longer able to make his or her own decisions due to physical or mental incapactiy, and also dictate who will receive the person’s estate (financial assets) upon the person’s death.
If a person does not do estate planning, provisions of the California Probate Code dictate the results depending upon the future event. For example, if the person becomes incapacitated and can no longer express his or her wishes regarding medical or financial decisions, a conservator may be appointed by the court to make decisions on behalf of the individual. In the event of a person’s death, the California laws of intestate succession dictate who will inherit the decedent’s property., and a probate administration may be required to transfer title to the heirs of the decedent.
The primary purpose of a revocable living trust is to avoid a court supervised probate proceeding. A living trust also allows the person creating the trust to select individual(s) who will manage the trust assets if the creator of the trust is unable to do so due to physical or mental incapacity, and a living trust can identify the individuals who will inherit the trust assets upon the creator’s death.