Estate Planning Law
Estate planning law involves the drafting of wills, trusts, power of attorney, and other types of documents that help facilitate the transfer and management of assets and property after death. Attorneys who specialize in estate planning law have a thorough understanding of how state and federal laws will impact your estate.
A trust is a type of fiduciary arrangement that permits a third party, or “trustee” to hold and direct assets in a trust fund on behalf of a beneficiary. Generally speaking, trust can be arranged in a variety of ways and can specify how and when the trust’s assets pass to the beneficiaries. Traditionally, trusts have been used to minimize estate taxes, but offer other benefits as well and are being used increasingly in well-crafted estate plans. A major distinction be the many types of trusts is whether they are revocable or irrevocable.
A will, officially known as a “last will and testament,” is a type of legal document that spells out your wishes with regard to the distribution of your assets and property as well as the care of any minor children after you have died. If you die without having prepared a will, you die “intestate,” and the state of California will oversee the distribution of your assets as dictated by the California Probate Code intestacy succession laws.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney or POA is a legally binding document that gives a person of your choosing, referred to as the “agent,” the legal right to manage your property, medical, and/or financial affairs should you become incapacitated and are unable to do so yourself. There are several types of POAs, each one serving a different purpose and each one having its own benefits. A POA can be general, having broad applications, or limited with a narrow focus. It can be durable, non-durable, or springing, depending upon when it takes effect.
HIPAA Authorization and Waivers
A HIPAA Authorization is a document that authorizes the release of medical records which are protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. A HIPAA Authorization names designated representatives who may receive protected medical records, despite the privacy protections of HIPAA. A HIPAA Waiver is another type of legal document that allows an individual’s health information to be used or disclosed to a third party such as attorneys, other physicians, researchers, or family members.
Advanced Health Care Directive
An Advanced Health Care Directive is another type of legal document that explains how an individual wants medical decisions to be for them in situations where they are unable to do so for themselves. An advanced directive lets your health care team as well as family members know the type of health care you want, or who you want to make decisions for you if you are no longer able to do so. These medical decisions may include special actions or emergency care, as well.