It’s almost mid-February, and perhaps one is sitting back and reflecting on a year that he or she believes is off to a good start in California. The often delayed task of estate planning has been completed. But has it? Has an estate plan actually been created or are there now estate documents where before there were none? And what is the difference?
Some people have a will, maybe a health care directive and even a medical power of attorney. These are estate documents, but they do not comprise a comprehensive estate plan. While many contingencies may be provided for in the existing documents, others may not be.
In a recent case in another state, an older couple died together. She had apparently fallen, and he fell as he was trying to help her; they had been married for over 50 years. They had a comprehensive estate plan and had communicated with their family members concerning their wishes after the plan had been established. However, another couple had an assortment of documents and had not established a plan or had meaningful communication with their family regarding their wishes. In the first instance, the family was united in carrying out their parent’s final wishes, while the second family could not agree or remember what the wishes were as they were not comprehensively spelled out in the estate documents.
Death is a natural part of life, and no amount of planning can prevent it. However comprehensive estate planning can ease the grief and mourning by spelling out one’s final wishes and thereby eliminating unnecessary family squabbles. Consulting with an experienced California estate planning attorney can help ensure that large and small details are not overlooked.