The majority of adults in the United States do not have an estate plan, and those who do often fail to include vital information that their estates will need. Many believe that an estate plan only includes a will that gives instructions for distributing assets and do not realize that there is more to a will than financial assets. Unless you work with a trust and estate lawyer, you place yourself and your estate at risk. Overlooking these key estate planning documents can create numerous problems for those closest to you when they are most vulnerable.

List of Assets

Never assume that your family and friends know exactly what you are leaving behind or where you are leaving it. Make sure you leave behind a list that contains the names, locations, and account numbers for your heirs. Also, include a detailed list of tangible assets with descriptions, especially if you are leaving certain assets to specific people. Failing to list assets could make it difficult for your heirs to correctly identify what you intended for them have or make it hard for them to locate assets you intended for them to have.

Financial Power of Attorney

Should anything happen to incapacitate you or limit your ability to manage your affairs, how will your family members be able to continue handling things on your behalf? A power of attorney gives your spouse, child, or other chosen individual access to your assets. Without a power of attorney, it will be difficult, or impossible, for your loved ones to access individually held assets.  Certain things like paying bills, making purchases for your household, and other routine financial tasks become a problem when you are incapacitated and your loved ones do not have the ability to access your accounts.

Living Will

Just like many adults do not like discussing the possibility of their death, most are not comfortable planning for a future where they are unable to make choices regarding their own medical care. Unfortunately, situations do occur that lead to adults being unable to make choices regarding their medical treatment. A living will gives loved ones instructions regarding how you would like them to proceed if you are no longer able to make choices associated with terminal illness or other health care related scenarios. Having a living will can avoid or reduce conflict during a time that is already difficult for those closest to you.

Last Will and Testament

The last will and testament is the document that most people think of in regards to estate planning. This document can contain a detailed list of provisions or, if you are distributing assets through a trust, minimum instructions to cover things that were not addressed elsewhere in your plan. A last will and testament should include instructions for how to distribute property, designate guardians for minor children, and give your estate burial instructions.


No two estate scenarios are the same, making getting legal advice essential to creating an estate plan that guides your beneficiaries during a difficult time. The team at MMZ Law is here to help you create an estate plan that is best suited for your unique situation. Our compassionate attorneys will provide you with the legal advice you need and the understanding that you deserve. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation today so that we can begin working to secure your legacy.




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.