February 27, 2017

Estate Plan Basics: What is Estate Planning & How Can I Get Started?

Trust / Estate Attorney Walnut Creek

When planning a secure future for yourself and your loved ones, an Estate Plan is the best way to ensure long-term financial security. By determining how your estate and assets will be managed after your death, you ensure that a bright future awaits your family.

It’s never too early to start planning for your loves ones’ future.

What is an Estate Plan?

An estate plan is a collection of legal agreements created to ensure that your property and assets are left behind in the way you wish. It can also include provisions that determine how your health care will be managed in the case that you are unable to actively advocate for yourself.

With a strong estate plan, you can provide protections for your children and loved ones, even if they are minors at your time of death. An estate plan will also allow your loved ones to avoid the costs, monetary and otherwise, of court-monitored probate following your death. Basically, your estate plan is a legal framework that ensures a healthy and secure future for you and your loved ones.

Want to learn more? Read Christina Weed’s free estate planning guide.

What is Included in Estate Planning?

When developing an estate plan, you work with a trust and estate planning attorney to bring together the right agreements for your unique situation. The primary documents are a will and a living trust. Your will gives you control over how your estate is administered and distributed. A living trust determines whom you will designate as a trustee, and describes how they will carry out the instructions indicated in your trust.

Other documents that can be included in an estate plan are:

  • Advance Healthcare Directive: An Advanced Healthcare Directive allows you to designate a person to take charge of your healthcare and end-of-life decisions in the event that you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
  • Durable Powers of Attorney: A Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a loved one to make financial choices and pay bills in the event that you are no longer able to do so. They ensure that the best interests for you and your family are always followed.
  • Guardianship Documents: Use Guardianship Documents to ensure that your children, if they are minors, are always in the best possible care. When prepared correctly, Guardianship Documents let you control every aspect of your child’s care, not the court. 

Thinking about setting up an estate plan? Get in touch with Mendes Weed, LLP, your Bay Area trust and estate planning firm.

How Can You Get Started?

First, I recommend that you take a look at our free estate planning guide. The guide will help you see how your estate plan might function, and will get you ready for the next step: finding a trusted estate planning attorney.

It is essential that you work with an experienced trust and estate planning attorney. Christina Weed is an experienced estate planning lawyer working with clients in San Francisco, the East Bay, and nationally.

As a licensed attorney with an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of San Diego, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy, Christina offers a unique combined focus on Trusts & EstatesTax LawTax Litigation, and Business Law. Christina is Chair of the Tax Section of the Contra Costa County Bar Association and is also a member of the Estate Planning Council Diablo Valley and the Tri-Valley Estate Planning Council.

Disclaimer: The tips and materials provided on this page are for informational purposes only, offered as public service. No information on this website should be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney directly.