The last thing your family needs to worry about after you pass away is settling your legal affairs. With the complications that may arise when dealing with an individual’s estate, it can never be too early to think about estate planning. However, knowing exactly what instruments you should have ready can be confusing.
Making a will is a good first step in planning for your estate. Everyone can benefit from having a will, even those with minimal assets. Wills allow you to determine which particular assets will go to certain people. Without a will, the state will distribute your assets to your spouse or next of kin, according to California’s succession laws. A will can also allow you to determine who will be the guardian of your children should something happen to you.
Another key part of estate planning is having a power of attorney. A power of attorney allows you to select an agent to handle your affairs. A “springing” power of attorney only comes into effect at a certain date or if you become incapacitated. In regard to medical decisions, you can create an advance health care directive that designates someone to make medical decisions for you, if you become unable to do so yourself. Also, this directive could establish whether or not you want life-sustaining treatment if you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious.
You should be careful about paying for pre-made estate planning products and seek individualized advice before signing any estate planning documents. The March Air Reserve Base Legal Office is able to provide wills, powers of attorney and healthcare directives to eligible military members. They recently expanded their Legal Assistance hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. If you need further information or would like to setup an appointment, please contact the March Legal Office at 951-655-4479.