Wills, Trusts and Powers Of Attorney

To “will” means “to decide.” A will creates the opportunity to decide how one’s personal possessions, investments and other property will be shared when one passes on. A will also establishes who supervises the distribution and care of those possessions. If a person dies without a will, the State of California will make those decisions according to legal formulas.

A will can also be used to identify who will care for minor children. When such directions do not exist, it is the State that will hold hearings and decide who shall raise the children. Taking the time to create even a simple will is a gift of caring for family and friends. It provides an opportunity for reflection and communication about material gifts, and gifts of love and friendship. A will offers the security and comfort that thoughtful plans can create.

A trust creates reliability and continuity. A trustee will care for property for the benefit of another person. The trust document identifies who will be the trustee or trustees, who will benefit from the property, what the property will include and how that property will be cared for.

Trusts are used in several ways. They can help limit probate, in which the State involves itself in the oversight of an estate. A trust can provide directions about how gifts will be used for years to come, and can insure financial stability for young children, or even adults who need particular help. A trust can also be used to support worthwhile charities, even while providing financial advantages to the giver.

A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care clearly communicates the way an individual wants medical care to be given. It is designed to protect one’s choices when one is unable to speak for oneself. Whether an individual wants medical interventions to the very maximum available, or wishes to avoid “heroic” medical treatments, this document provides that one’s wishes will be understood and respected.

A Durable Power of Attorney for Finances identifies a trusted individual who will step in to make decisions concerning assets and property in the event one is unable to make them oneself. This power can be temporary if, for instance, the problem is a reversible medical concern; or it can provide life-long care if someone loses the ability to manage his or her affairs. This power ensures continuity not only for the individual, but for his or her family as well.