Older Americans are among the largest age group in California and around the country as the baby boomers continue to enter retirement. Many believe they have good estate plans in place and are enjoying their retirement. They believe that having a will is all that is really needed to have a good plan. Wills alone do not necessarily comprise an estate plan, however.
Wills do allow one to determine who inherits certain assets, but they do not provide guidance on what should be done if a person becomes physically or mentally incapacitated and unable to manage one’s affairs. Nor do they necessarily determine how assets may be managed following one’s death. This can be particularly important if assets are being left to a person with special needs or poor spending habits.
Other components of an estate plan include powers of attorney and trusts. Powers of attorney allow a person to designate someone who can speak in his or her stead in the event of physical or mental incapacity. POAs can be limited to certain functions, such as power over financial decisions or medical decisions.
In order to rest easy and fully enjoy retirement in California, a comprehensive estate plan should be put in place. Wills alone do not constitute such a plan. An estate planning professional can review one’s financial situation and assist in coming up with an overall plan that covers contingencies and helps to ensure that final wishes will be carried out. Once a plan is in place, periodic reviews serve to ensure that the plan continues to meet specific needs and goals.