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Common estate planning documents (part 1)

Ask the LDA


Preparing a will has long been a fundamental building block of any estate plan. With a properly drafted will, you can arrange for your estate to be distributed and administered according to your wishes. In your will you can:

• Appoint an executor to manage your estate through the probate process.

• Appoint a guardian for your minor children or disabled beneficiaries.

• Make specific bequests of property or assets to specific beneficiaries.

• Designate assets to be placed in trust for family members or other beneficiaries.

• Specifically disinherit a potential heir (NOTE: disinheriting a spouse or minor children can be extremely difficult if not impossible.)

• Create a "pour-over" provision so that any assets that, for one reason or another, were not previously transferred into your living trust would pass to that trust and be managed and distributed under its terms.

Powers of Attorney (POA)

The two major categories of POA are:

1. Those that are created to be used by someone to make financial decisions on your behalf.

2. Those created to be used by someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.

Delegating authority to someone to act on your behalf should you become unable to do so is an extremely important aspect of estate planning. During your lifetime, circumstances might arise when you can't represent yourself. A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you, the "principal," to authorize another individual, the "agent" or "attorney-in-fact," to act on your behalf. You can, of course, revoke any POA at any time in writing. Note that all POA are revoked at the death of the principal. In addition, unless otherwise specifically provided in the POA document itself, all powers of attorney are automatically revoked in the event of the incapacity of the principal. If the POA contains language specifically authorizing the agent to act during the incapacity of the principal, then the POA is known as a "durable" power of attorney, or "DPOA." Note that a financial POA will only be effective for assets held in the principal's name.

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 4/11/25.