When the time comes to make an estate plan, most people fixate on writing their wills. While having a will is important since it ensures property is transferred in a manner that you approve, it is not the only thing that you need to worry about. To protect your family and your legacy it is important that you know what documents to include in an estate plan. Failing to include certain documents can create problems for your heirs should you suddenly become incapacitated or pass away.

Durable Financial Power of Attorney

A growing number of people have started using revocable living trusts to control their assets and leave fewer financial problems for their heirs. Unfortunately, not all assets can be part of a living trust. If there is someone close to you who you trust to manage your financial affairs should you become sick or incapacitated, consider naming them your representative using a durable financial power of attorney. This document allows the person you choose to act on your behalf in handling your pension, IRA, or other financial accounts. Doing this ensures someone will be able to speak to various financial institutions, such as your mortgage or credit card companies, on your behalf.

Advance Directive

Health care and your wishes regarding how your medical care is handled becomes more important as you get older. An advance directive gives your loved ones and medical care providers instructions regarding how you want your medical care to be handled should you become incapable of communicating on your own. Creating an advance directive ensures that your loved ones will not have to struggle finding answers to critical health care related issues when you are no longer capable of giving instructions. It also prevents delay when it comes to medical professionals administering the treatment that you would have wanted.

Letter of Intent

At the time of your will creation it is likely that you will name at least one executor to handle your estate once you are gone. This person has control over paying your creditors, communicating with your heirs, and distributing your assets. After you have selected an executor, make sure you create a letter of intent that gives specific instructions regarding what you want done after you pass away. A letter of intent can include how you want your funeral handled and reaffirm how you want certain assets distributed. This document should be used in conjunction with your will to provide a road map for your executor to ensure there are no questions regarding your wishes.

Review Your Estate Plan with a Lawyer

No matter how many documents you have created to be included in your estate plan, it is important to have your estate reviewed by a qualified probate lawyer. A skilled lawyer can make sure that you have all of the documents necessary to transfer assets with limited difficulty and ensure that your assets are properly managed should you become incapacitated. If you or someone close to you needs help with estate planning, contact MMZ Law today. We are here to answer any questions that you may have and can be reached at 909-256-6702 to schedule an initial consultation.




341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.