Contemplating one's death is not a pastime most people wish to engage in. But failing to contemplate and plan on what happens to the property and people a person cares about in California can have serious unintended consequences. These can be avoided by taking some time to determine one's final wishes through estate planning.
Creating an estate plan should not be limited to financial and tax considerations. A person should determine if a will alone can meet one's needs. Medical directives may need to be considered in the event that one is not able to speak or communicate one's wishes, and this could apply to financial decisions as well. A will by itself is only applicable after a person's death. Other instruments of an estate plan can include trusts set up for charitable contributions or care of minor children.
Once an estate plan is established, its existence should be communicated to one's family. Failure to communicate the location of the documents could cause one's loved ones months of searching and frustration. An estate plan is meant to be an evolving plan that can change with changes to one's life such as a growing family or changes in finances.
A lack of estate planning can cause one's loved ones to deal with much more than just grief at one's passing. Failure to plan can leave one's estate to be distributed by the court, which may involve a significant amount in legal fees and often a great amount of time. Any adult in California who has not yet established a plan may wish to consult with an experienced attorney to begin the process.