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Easiest Way to Put Together An Estate Plan

This page describes the simplest way you can put together an estate plan. Since everyone's situations is different, these plans will not work for everyone, but they can give you an idea of how simple it can be to put something in place.

For Everyone (Best for Singles)

familyWhile this strategy could be used by anyone, it is most useful for singles without children. This is not a bad option if you want to quickly put something in place, but are not ready to engage in advanced planning.

This option only requires you answer two questions:

1. Name the person you trust the most:
2. Name the person you trust second most:

Will & Living Will

The person listed next to question 1 will inherit all of your assets and be your health care agent (the person who makes health care decisions for you in the event of incapacity).

Alternate

The person listed next to option 2 is the person will inherit everything and will be your health care agent if the first person is not available to serve.

What you will need to decide for this section:

1. Who would you like to be in charge of distributing the assets from the will and act as your health care agent?
2. Who do you want to be your alternate health care agent?

Married Couples or Domestic Partners

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Will & Living Will

The simplest form is to leave all of your property to your spouse and to name your spouse as your health care proxy.

Alternates

You should also both consider what you want to happen if you pass at the same time or both become incapacitated. You should both name an alternate health care proxy and someone else to receive your estate. The most common form is to split the assets evenly between your immediate family or one trusted family member on each side.

Emergency Account

If you have a separate bank accounts, either start a new joint emergency account or set up an account to be payable on death to your partner so they will have access to cash in the event of an emergency.

What you will need to decide for this section:

1. Who do you want to be your alternate health care agent?
2. Who would you like to be in charge of distributing the assets from the will in the event you both are incapacitated?

Couples with Minor Children

family

Will & Living Will

The simplest form is to leave all of your property to your spouse and to name your spouse as your health care agent. You will both name your child(ren) as your alternate beneficiary.

Name a Guardian

In the event you are both in an accident, you will also want to nominate a guardian. It is common to leave your children all of your property in this circumstance and have the nominated guardian be the “custodian of the estate” or the person who is in charge of managing the estate until your children reach the age of 18. It is generally included that they will be able to use a reasonable portion of the funds for the care of the children.

Emergency Account

When you have children you might consider setting up an account to be payable on death to your partner and then to your named guardian so they will have access to cash in the event of an emergency. You could also accomplish this by putting money in a jointly owned bank account with all three of your names.

Set-Up a Living Trust

Trusts are useful for ensuring that the proceeds of your estate do not pass to your children until they are mature enough to handle the responsibility. Also, trusts can be useful for avoiding probate and making those funds available to your spouse or guardian as soon as possible without the addition time and expense of going through probate.

What you will need to decide for this section:

1. Who do you want to be your alternate health care agent?
2. Who do you want to designate as you the guardian for your children?
3. Is there any property you would like to put in a trust?
4. Who would you like to be in charge of distributing the assets from the trust/will in the event you both are incapacitated?

Couples with Adult Children

family

Will and Living Will:

The simplest form is to leave all of your property to your spouse and to name your spouse as your health care proxy. You should also both consider what you want to happen if you pass at the same time or both become incapacitated. You should both name an alternate health care proxy and decide how you would like to split the estate. The most common form is to split the assets evenly between your children.

Emergency Account:

If you have separate bank accounts, you may consider setting up an emergency account that your spouse or children can access in the event of an accident where you are both seriously injured or name your spouse as the Pay-on-Death beneficiary of your account (all your bank to set-up).

Trust

Trusts are a useful tool for dividing assets equally, avoiding probate, and providing the simplest transition of assets possible for your spouse. The most common property distribution under your trust is to name your spouse as the primary beneficiary and in the event you both pass, the entire estate divided equally among your children.

Decision About Personal Property

Cars, personal property, and burial instructions are distributed by a Letter of Instructions which can be easily updated without the help of a lawyer.

What you will need to decide for this section:

1. Who do you want to be your alternate health care agent?
2. Who would you like to be in charge of distributing the assets from the trust/will in the event you both are incapacitated? This person is often the oldest child or closest sibling.

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summerall law
Summerall Law, P.C. - Oakland Estate Planning Attorney
Located at 3873 Piedmont Avenue, Suite 8,
Oakland, CA 94611
Phone: (415) 275-3283
Local Phone: (510) 922-0747
Website:
Probate.com

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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