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What is estate planning? (Part One)

Ask the LDA

Series: What is estate planning | Story 1

reprinted from Estate Planning - CALDA

Diana Wade has been writing for The Loop newspaper since 2010 in her Ask the Advocate column. Although Diana has been a Disability Advocate for 26 years, she has also been a paralegal since 1980, when she received her Certificate from CSU Dominguez Hills, and a document preparer since 1990. Currently she is a member of the California Association of Legal Document Assistants (CALDA), previously known as the California Association of Independent Paralegals (CAIP). In 1990 she began providing self-help legal services in Kern County. She was President of CALDA from 2002-2003 and helped write the law governing LDAs that went into effect in 2000. She has served on the Advisory Committee and has spoken at many industry conferences. Diana is not an attorney but is proud to provide self-help legal document assistance to her clients. In her new column, Ask the LDA, she will be sharing useful information on various topics.

What is estate planning?

In a fundamental sense, estate planning is about control. With an appropriate estate plan in place, you, not the courts (or anyone else you would not choose), decide who will have control of the distribution of your assets and make financial decisions on your behalf in the event of your death or disability. You can also arrange who will make decisions about your medical care and end-of-life issues, or about who will have legal custody of your minor or disabled children. Properly structured, an estate plan will also minimize expenses and delays, such as those associated with the probate process.

Who needs an estate plan?

It is sometimes said that "the only person who doesn't need an estate plan is someone who has no assets, no family, and who will never die or become incapacitated." Below are some of the issues commonly addressed in an effective estate plan:

1. Who will control my financial affairs if I become incapacitated?

2. Who will make medical and end-of-life decisions for me in the event of my incapacity? How do I ensure that the person I appoint will have access to all of my medical information?

3. What happens if I die before my children are able to take care of themselves? What do I do if the person I want to care for my children is not good with money?

4. How do I ensure that my estate assets will be distributed according to my wishes? Can I specify my final arrangements?

5. How do I arrange my estate to minimize or eliminate the costs and delays of probate?

It's difficult to imagine a person to whom one or more of the issues above would not apply.

Diana Wade is a Legal Document Assistant. She can be reached at (661) 821-0494 or [email protected]. Diana is not an attorney, she can only provide self-help services at your specific direction. Kern County LDA #185, ex 4/11/23.