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LA County estate planning lawyerAccording to national statistics, approximately 31 million Americans move each year. Some move across town, while others move across the state. However, about four million move to a different state. Out-of-state moves can be stressful to coordinate, especially if you have a family and an entire household to move. There are also all of the things you need to do when you arrive in your new state – including finding out about your children’s new schools, finding new doctors, dentists, hair salons, grocery stores – the list goes on. But what many people never think about is that by moving to a new state, they also need to update their estate plans.    

Estate Laws

If you have had a qualified estate planning attorney help you with your estate plan, it likely contains a variety of documents that stipulate how you want your assets and property to be distributed upon your death. Estate plans can contain a will, living trust, advance directive (living will), and power of attorney, along with other documents, depending on your own personal situation.

Every person’s estate plan is developed based on the laws of the state they live in. And just like many other laws, estate planning laws vary from state to state. This not only includes estate planning laws, but also laws regarding marital property, inheritance tax, income taxes, and state estate taxes.

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Los Angeles estate planning lawyerOne of the benefits of creating an estate plan is ensuring that your wishes are honored throughout the rest of your life and after your death. Through your will, trusts, powers of attorney, and other estate planning instruments, you can lay out a clear plan for your assets and your end-of-life care. However, you will need people to help you carry out the terms of your estate plan when you are no longer able to do so on your own. An important part of estate planning is choosing the right people to fill a variety of roles.

Naming Your Chosen Representatives

As you work on your estate plan, here are some of the roles that you may need to appoint:

  • Estate executor - After your death, your estate executor will be your representative throughout the probate process and the administration of your will. The executor will be responsible for safeguarding your assets, resolving outstanding obligations to creditors, and distributing your assets to your named beneficiaries. You can designate your executor in your will, and it may be a good idea to name an alternative in case your first choice is unable to perform their duties.
  • Guardian for minor children - If you are creating an estate plan while you have children under the age of 18, it is important to nominate a person to serve as their guardian if you unexpectedly die or become incapacitated. This helps to ensure that they will be in the care of someone you trust.
  • Trustee - Establishing a trust for some of your assets allows you to distribute them to your chosen beneficiaries outside of the probate process. When you fund a trust, you will need to name a trustee who will be responsible for managing the assets and distributing them according to your wishes.
  • Agent or attorney-in-fact - Your estate plan may include powers of attorney, which grant the authority to make decisions on your behalf regarding your assets and healthcare if you become incapacitated. The person to whom you grant authority is known as your attorney-in-fact, or your agent.

While the State of California has certain requirements regarding who may serve in each of these roles, you have significant freedom to choose the people whom you believe are best suited to fill them. You may choose to name your spouse, an adult child, or a sibling in one or more of these roles, especially those of a more personal nature. For roles that have greater financial responsibilities, like a trustee or an estate executor, you may want to choose someone with a special set of financial skills that prepare them for their duties.

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