Isha Kakkar, Esq.
So...why do I need to plan?
Everyone is at different stages of their life and has different things going on. One thing we all have in common is that at some point, we will no longer be around. That’s why planning is important.
If you own a home, have life insurance, have retirement plans, have minor children, or have businesses, it’s important to plan for these different aspects of your life.
If you own a home in California, where most homes are valued above $150,000, and you pass without a Trust, the home will have to go through probate. The same goes for any assets valued at $150,000 or more that are not held in a Trust. Having a Will alone will not avoid probate.
If you have minor children, nominating guardians is even more important. Especially if you are incapacitated or no longer, naming people you trust to take care of your children is crucial. Otherwise, your children could end up in the care of Child Protective Services and eventually foster care. Nominating guardians also helps reduce any potential guardianship disputes that could arise.
If you own a business, without proper planning, the fate of your business could be left in the air.
But what if I don’t own a home, don’t have a considerable amount of assets, don’t have children?
I don’t need to plan.
It is a myth that if you don’t own a home, don’t have many assets, or do not have children that you do not need to plan. Everyone needs to plan as stated above - there will be a point that we will no longer be around. Without a plan in place, the court will decide what happens to your assets when you are gone.The court may allow your assets to be inherited by someone you never wanted to inherit. And in the event that you are incapacitated, the court again will make decisions on your behalf.
What many people don’t realize is that not only are you putting your financial and personal affairs in order when you plan, you’re also planning for the unexpected, incapacity. We don’t plan to be incapacitated, it can happen to anyone, anytime. Having the proper powers of attorney in place is paramount.
Without your financial power of attorney or health care power of attorney, your loved ones would have to initiate conservatorship proceedings in court in order to make decisions on your behalf. Not only is this process confusing, it can also be costly. Further, without proper guidance, your conservator could possibly make decisions that do not align with your wishes or beliefs. That’s why it’s essential to have these documents in place.
Why let someone else make your life decisions? Take control of your life and speak with an Estate Planning Attorney today.