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Essential estate planning documents in California

Every person is different and with varying individual life circumstances. Estate plans should reflect this. Estate planning strategies should be highly individualized and customized to fit a person's specific situation and estate planning goals in California. However, there are some specific estate planning documents that are standard for most individual estate planning strategies.

Usually, one of the more important of these documents is a will. This estate planning instrument directs how assets are to be distributed to intended beneficiaries. Even if one does not wish to use a will as a primary method for asset distribution, it is still a good idea to have one in order to deal with any leftover assets that need to be distributed.

A living will is another essential estate planning document. This legal instrument enables one to direct what methods medical professionals should utilize in order to preserve one's life in the case of incapacitation. Also, in the case of incapacitation, it is necessary to prepare to take care of one's financial affairs. A general durable power of attorney will enable another person to handle one's financial decisions while one is incapacitated.

All of these legal documents and instruments should be considered when creating an estate planning strategy in California. Some of these are essential for an effective estate plan. However, each individual person will have varying estate planning goals that will influence which documents will be used and how they will be drafted and implemented. Understanding the relevant laws pertaining to estate planning is helpful.

Source:, "Estate Plan Fundamentals: Documents and Differences", Bob Lambert, July 28, 2015

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