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By Diana Wade

What is estate planning?

Ask the LDA


July 22, 2023

Diana Wade.

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.

Core concepts. Gaining some familiarity with a few basic concepts can go a long way toward helping you understand what's involved in developing your estate plan. For a wide range of people, there are three major topics that will be essential to understanding their estate planning objectives: A. How assets are owned and controlled B. Probate C. Common estate planning documents.

Diana Wade is a Legal Document Assistant. She can be reached at (661) 821-0494 or Diana is not an attorney; she can only provide self-help services at your specific direction. Kern County LDA #185, ex 4/11/25.


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