While every couple’s estate plan takes on a unique character, most families need to speak to their estate planning lawyer about the following:

Ensuring the Continuity of Their Beneficiary Designations

Beneficiary designations are provided alongside many different types of accounts, including the following:

  • Bank accounts
  • Individual retirement accounts (IRAs)
  • Life insurance policies

In most cases, beneficiary designations permit the relatively easy transfer of the primary account owner’s assets to a named heir or beneficiary. However, since beneficiary designations take precedence over wills in probate, they must be reviewed regularly. 

Authorizing Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legally-enforceable document that delegates certain authorities to a trusted agent, often a spouse, family member, or lawyer.

California recognizes several different powers of attorney, including the durable power of attorney and the health care power of attorney. Each of these powers ensures that, even in the event the principal is ever incapacitated, a trusted agent-in-fact can continue paying their bills and providing for their basic needs.

Establishing a Revocable Living Trust

A trust is a type of legal entity capable of receiving, possessing, and managing different assets. California law provides for the establishment of a number of different trusts, including:

  • Revocable living trusts
  • Irrevocable trusts
  • Special needs trusts

A revocable living trust is a trust that is founded during the trustor’s lifetime. For as long as the trustor is alive, they retain exclusive rights of use and access to trust assets, which include financial accounts, a motor vehicle, or even a home. Upon the trustor’s death, a nominated successor trustee must administer the trust in accordance with its terms and conditions.

Since trusts are discrete legal entities, trust-owned assets are not typically subject to probate. They are, consequently, frequently employed by Californians striving to keep their possessions out of probate—a goal that can spare their family’s privacy while also expediting the disbursal of inheritances.

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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