When it comes to deciding what happens to your estate once you pass away, many people ask me, “Do I need more than a will?”
The answer to that question is yes. A will delineates who gets what from your estate, but writing up a will isn’t the only important part of estate planning.
Estate planning also covers your wishes about what should happen if you become incapacitated or disabled, who takes charge of your assets, who makes medical decisions on your behalf, and, for parents of minor children, who will take care of your children in the event of an emergency. So, yes, you’ll definitely need more than just a will to have all your bases covered.
Every adult in California needs both a power of attorney to make financial decisions on your behalf and a medical power of attorney to dictate who will make medical decisions for you.
You’ll also need a living will, also called an advance health care directive, which dictates what should occur if you were to end up on life support.
Additionally, you’ll also need a HIPAA authorization, which gives people you choose the authority to speak to your doctors and act based on your medical desires. You can declare a short-term guardian for emergency situations, as well as a long-term guardian who will raise your children in the event of your passing.
Further still, you’ll want to have an emergency contact card to make sure the information you’ve put in place regarding your estate plan is readily available in the case of an emergency.
Finally, for parents of minor children, you’ll want to have a designated guardian in place. It’s worthwhile to write a letter to your children and guardians to let them know about your wishes. This is especially important if you have very young children; it’s vital that you let your guardians know how you’d like your children to be cared for if you pass away.
All of these elements are necessary for estate planning, in addition to your will.
With these items in place, everyone will know what wishes, values, and stories to pass down on your behalf.
If you have any questions about estate planning, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d be happy to provide you with further information.