4 Estate Planning Documents You Need Today

Why do so many Americans put off estate planning?

A survey conducted by Caring.com in 2017 revealed that an alarming six out of ten adults in the U.S. do not have even basic estate planning documents in place.  This means that over half of the U.S. population is at risk of dying without an estate plan. Those of us that put off estate planning for too long could be leaving our assets, health, and loved ones at risk.  Below, our Orange County, California estate planning lawyer discusses why some of us avoid making an estate plan and outline the five estate planning documents you need to create as soon as possible.

Why We Avoid Estate Planning

There are many reasons why people avoid creating an estate plan.  One factor for some of us is simply time. In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, it can be easy to put off contemplating an estate plan or meeting with an estate planning lawyer.  In continuing to delay this task, however, you could end up waiting until it is too late.
Others may delay making an estate plan due to a desire to avoid thoughts of death.  None of us want to contemplate our own mortality, but failing to address this reality could cost your family greatly.  Further, drafting an estate plan involves much more than thoughts of death. It also requires contemplating your future and that of the next generation.

Estate Planning Essentials

Recognizing the importance of making an estate plan, now is the time to sit down and develop a basic estate plan.  The following documents are vital to make as soon as possible:

  1. A will:  A will is your most basic estate planning tool.  With a will, you can designate who will receive your assets upon your death.  You can also name a guardian for your minor child.
  2. Durable power of attorney:  With a durable power of attorney, you can select an agent who will be able to conduct financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.  Without a power of attorney, a court might be forced to decide what will become of your assets if you are incapacitated.
  3. Healthcare power of attorney:  Like a durable power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney protects you if you are incapacitated.  This form of power of attorney will allow you to name an individual to make healthcare decisions when you are unable.
  4. A trust:  A trust is one of the few estate planning tools that will keep your assets out of probate.  With a trust, you can transfer title of your assets to the trust and these assets will pass directly to your heirs without the need for court involvement.

To get started protecting your loved ones and your future, contact our estate planning attorneys today.

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.