Estate planning affects your finances, your health and your family. As such, you can never know too much about the law. While it is unreasonable to task yourself with learning everything about estate planning, it is wise to learn as much as possible.
For those in San Jose and nearby California communities, we suggest focusing your education on two areas initially: Local law and terminology. In most cases, learning about these two elements can help you put the remaining pieces together.
California estate planning laws
The legal documents in your plan each have individual legal requirements. To remain in compliance with these laws, you need to know about them. Some of the most important things you need to learn include:
- Legal requirements for a valid will
- Powers of attorney laws
- Legal requirements for California trusts
- Advance medical directive laws
Often, people start their journey toward understanding these laws when they start seriously working on their estate plans.
Estate planning terminology
When you begin choosing which documents and tools to include in your plan, you will likely hear or read legal terms that seem confusing. Once you identify the meaning of such terms, you will also increase your knowledge of estate planning laws. Examples of unfamiliar estate planning terms include:
- Fiduciary: A person or company that manages and holds assets in trust for named beneficiaries.
- Codicil: A testamentary instrument that alters or modifies the terms of an existing will.
- Testator: A term for the person that signs a completed will.
- Intestate: To die without a valid will, an undesirable situation that leaves the distribution of a person’s estate in the hands of state law.
Once you have increased your knowledge of law and terminology, you are poised to learn even more about the benefits and power of California estate planning.