When you start the estate planning process in California, you’re not just planning for your family’s future: You’re also making important legal and medical decisions that could greatly influence your final years. For this reason, it’s important to establish well-crafted incapacity directives that act in your best interests.
How do you establish incapacity directives?
To establish incapacity directives, you’ll need to create a comprehensive estate plan that includes decisions for your end-of-life care. The estate planning process gives you the chance to write a living will that dictates the kind of medical care you want to receive if you’re ever incapacitated. You can name someone as your health care proxy who can make these decisions for you.
You’ll also get the chance to choose someone for financial power of attorney. This person can manage your financial affairs if you’re unable to do it yourself. This person may have access to certain assets, so you’ll want to choose someone you trust. They could pay your bills and taxes while you’re incapacitated, and enter into other necessary financial transactions on your behalf.
When you’re choosing someone for power of attorney, consider naming an additional person, or even two, as a backup. The first person might die or become incapacitated before they get the chance to perform their duties, rendering that part of the will invalid. For this reason, it’s also important to periodically review your estate plans to make sure that everything is still accurate and up to date. Otherwise, the choices that you made several years ago might not be valid during the final stages of your life.
What else should you include in your estate plans?
Your estate plans should include a will that divides up your properties and assets. You might want to establish a trust to bypass probate and avoid burdening your beneficiaries with certain estate taxes. While every state has a different set of inheritance laws, California’s probate laws are known for being particularly harsh, so it’s important to talk to an attorney to make sure you’re making the right choices for your family.