Diablo Document Preparation is passionate about helping clients with their estate planning needs. Having the right plan in place allows you the oppurtunity to inform your loved about your wishes and gives them the ability to manage your affairs if you aren't capable.
Many people believe that just because they don't have large estate that it idoesn't apply to them; this couldn't be further from the truth. Below are some of the documents that we can prepare with information on what they can do for you.
All of the forms below can be prepared by Diablo Document Preparation. We also offer free notary services for all documents prepared by our office.
Durable Power of Attorney (California Probate Code § 4000 et seq.)
Most people have heard of a power of attorney, but many power of attorneys expire when the principal is incapacitated. A Durable Power of Attorney becomes useful when the principal becomes incapacitated, therefore allowing an agent of their choice (or co-agents) to act on their behalf. A Durable Power of Attorney gives agents the legal authority to conduct the legal and financial affairs of the principal. The principal granting authority to their agent can limit these powers as well. Prior to preparing this document it's best to consider those in your life who you trust the most, and those who will be abel to handle the duties on your behalf if/when something should happen to you. If you decide to nominate co-agents keep in mind their relationship and history. There may be times when co-agents disagree which may lead to issues which can sometimes lead to legal action. One more important thing to consider is when the Durable Power of Attorney springs into action. Some people opt for "Springing Powers" which means that it will become effective once you are deemed incapacitated. This will require one or two doctors certifying your incapacity, this can be difficult and may require court hearings if the doctor(s) will not certify. If you make the Durable Power of Attorney effective immediately this would avoid the doctor certification upon incapacity. Some people get nervous when granting powers like this when they are well because they worry that the agent will access their financial accounts now, however, if you can't trust your agent now, should you trust them when you are incapacitated?
Advance Healthcare Directive (California Probate Code § 4701)
Advance Healthcare Directives are similar to Durable Powers of Attorney however, they are used for healthcare purposes. Your agent for your Healthcare Directive will relay to your medical team your wishes that you have put in writing. Your Advance Healthcare Directive will direct the medical treatment you will receive if you are incapacitated; it has options for consent to or refuse consent for medical treatment, selection of health care providers or institutions, approval or dissaproval of diagnostic testing, surgical procedures or medications, feeding and hydration or withholding of same along with CPR and organ donation options.
You can select one agent on this form with options for additional agents if your first choice cannot act for any reason. There is also an option to elect co-agents, two or more agents acting together. Typically co-agents act together and must agree on decisions. This can create problems if the co-agents disagree on matters. It is important to express your wishes in writing as clear as possible to avoid confusion and disagreements between co-agents.
HIPAA Authorization (Always Included with the Advance Healthcare Directive)
The HIPAA Authorization allows your selected agents to access your medical records in regard to your physical or mental health. This includes records from your dentist, doctor, hospital, insurance company, pharmacy or the Medical Information Bureau. This document will help your agents to provide the best care for you if you are incapacitated and cannot do it yourself.
Wills have two very important functions; the first being nominating guardians if you have minor children and secondly naming benificiaries who will inherit your property upon your death. Each person should create their own will; married couples typically coordinate their wills and if they have minor children, nominate the same guardian.
A Will may be a good choice if you do not own real property, you have minor children and want to nominate guardians for them, you cannot afford a Living Trust or do not want to, you don't care about probate costs or the fact that your Will may become public record once you pass away, or you have complicated creditor problems and want the court to step in to figure them out when you pass away.
Wills may be the right option for young couples with minor children that do not have assets valuing more than $150,000.00. This way they can nominate a guardian for their minor children, and include provisions for a trust account for the assets the children will inherit.
Revocable Living Trust
A revocable living trust has several benefits, a trust does not need to be filed with the court and is not a public document and a trust essentially holds your assets making transfer easier at your death with no need for court intervention. A living trust can be drafted according to your needs, it can also be used to set up trusts for your children, grandchildren, even your pets!
Many people think that a living trust is only for the wealthy or retired folks. This is a common misconception, in fact, most Californians that own property would benefit from a well drafted living trust.
A living trust will also include a will which can name guardians for your minor children. A trust will also nominate a sucessor trustee, which is the person who will manage your assets once you pass away, or once you are incapacitated. You have the option to name multiple sucessor trustees with alternates or co-trustees if you so wish.
The key to a living trust is to make sure that you transfer your assets into your trust. If you do not title your assets into your living trust you may well have never created it, it is useless. Trusts allow your assets to transfer to beneficiary in a timely manner without a court hearing in most cases.
Transfer on Death Deed
In January of 2016 California joined several other states in allowing a Transfer of Death Deed to be prepared on real property. Transfer on death deeds are an excellent tool to transfer your property to a loved one without the need for probate. Transfer on death deeds are revocable at any time and are recorded against your property. They name a beneficiary or multiple beneficiaries who will inherit your property upon your passing.
Transfer on death deeds can be recorded for a single family residence or condominium, a single family residence with up to 40 acres of agricultural land, or a residential property with no more than 4 units.
If you have questions about any of the above documents please contact Diablo Document Preparation. We are happy to offer free in office consultations to go over the benefits of each option so you can confidently make the right choice for your situation.
All of our document services include a flat fee rate and free notary services.