WHAT IS AN ESTATE
Let’s start with the basics of what exactly an estate consists of. The term “estate” consists of all the property a person owns or controls at their death. It does not matter if it’s held as your own property, community property, or some form of joint ownership.
It includes things like: Real property such as houses, condos, and land; Personal property such as cars, home furnishings, and bank accounts; Collectibles such as art, antiques, and jewelry; Life insurance; Investment accounts such as 401k, IRA, and brokerage accounts; Business interests such as corporations, partnerships etc.
…and the list goes on.
As you can see-really anything you have is part of your estate.
IF EVERYTHING IS A PART OF MY ESTATE, THEN WHAT EXACTLY IS AN ESTATE PLAN?
Estate planning is really just a process of setting up several types of very fact specific documents to help you determine where your hard earned assets will go and who will help control them.
It is a way to determine a series of “what if” scenarios and working through those scenarios. Then, everything is simply laid out in writing, so that when you are gone, or if you have become incapacitated in some way, someone you have named to handle your estate can clearly, and easily understand your wishes.
That person can then step into action and handle your affairs, taking care of you according to your wishes while you are alive, and then, when you have died, passing your property on to your loved ones with minimal hassle. If done properly, this can be done with no interference from the courts or the government.
So often however, people think that a proper estate plan only takes care of “what happens to my property when I die?” The larger question, and one that most attorneys are unprepared to deal with is “what happens if I outlive my assets?
Both questions must be answered, and it is critical that your wishes are clearly spelled out in your estate planning documents of what you would want if you became incapacitated. That’s what sets Orange County Estate Planning Law Center apart. We view estate planning from all perspectives and focus on making sure you are comfortable and taken care of while you are alive.