Why do I need Estate Planning?

Adults of all ages often ask me why they need to meet with an Estate Planning Attorney. The quick answer is simple: to prepare for those likely and inevitable phases in life when you cannot control your money or health decisions.  Often, the reality of this answer is dismissed because people are afraid to confront the hard truth that these phases could happen at any time in your life. The first phase is the loss of capacity, which could be temporary or permanent. For example, losing capacity may be for a relatively short time, such as after a car accident or work injury that leaves you hospitalized for a few months, unable to care for yourself. Loss of capacity could be permanent, as in the case of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, which is commonly associated with old age. However, permanency of this phase is not reserved for the aging, elderly, or frail. I have also encountered vibrant, youthful, active people who have been struck with traumatic brain injuries and other permanently debilitating health conditions during the prime of their lives. The second phase to consider is at your death, when you will have no control over your assets. Choosing not to work with an attorney to establish a personalized estate plan means that an appointed judge will decide who makes these important health and financial decisions on your behalf. Next, I will discuss how to plan for the first phase, incapacity during your lifetime. Matthew Hart is a California Licensed Attorney who is an Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Specialist certified by the State Bar of California. His office is in Antioch and he can be reached at 925-754-200 or www.MatthewHartLaw.com.