Your Estate Plan Documents

When creating your estate plan, we tailor each document to address your personal needs and interests.  The documents outlined below are for a Trust-based estate plan (an estate plan with a Revocable Living Trust rather than a Will).  A Will-based estate plan will contain all of the same documents as a Trust-based estate plan except the Will is substituted for the Revocable Living Trust.  To learn more about the benefits of having a Revocable Living Trust ("Trust") vs. a Will, see “What is a Trust?” under the Resources tab.  

Below are all of the documents that will be included in a Trust-based estate plan.  

1)      Revocable Living Trust

Your Revocable Living Trust (“Trust”) is the foundation of your estate plan. It contains one set of instructions for your own care if you become disabled or incapacitated and another set of instructions of how you want your estate to be distributed upon your passing.  A Trust, unlike a Will, also allows you to keep your instructions and financial affairs private.  Once your Trust has been created, all of your assets can be transferred into the Trust (a process also referred to as “funding your Trust”).  

2)      Pour-Over Will

Your Pour-Over Will leaves any property that was not transferred into your Trust before your death to your Trust when you pass. This Pour-Over Will acts as a form of a “safety net” to capture any assets that were not included in your Trust.  Using this Pour-Over Will, any property that was not included in your Trust can be easily transferred into your Trust after your death in probate court. While you will always have your Pour-Over Will to act as a safety net, the goal is to avoid probate all together which can be done if all of your property is transferred into the Trust during your life.

3)      Living Will

The Living Will is an important document that outlines your wishes should your death become imminent, you are in a permanent vegetative state, or if you have a terminal illness. Your Living Will also informs your doctors of your wishes regarding extraordinary medical measures.

4)      Trustee’s Affidavit/ Certification of Trust

We will create a Trustee’s Affidavit and a Certification of Trust for you even though both of these documents serve the same purpose.  Both documents prove to third parties that your Trust exists and that you, the Trustee, have the power to manage and control your Trust.  These documents are generally requested by financial institutions when you are conducting business on behalf of the Trust.  Some financial institutions prefer the Trustee's Affidavit whereas some require a Certification of Trust; so we will provide you with both documents. 

5)      California Advance Health Care Directive

The California Advance Health Care Directive lets you name another individual to serve as your “agent” and make health care decisions if you become incapable of making your own decisions.  In this document, you may also express your wishes regarding withholding, or withdrawal of treatment to keep you alive, as wells as provisions regarding pain relief.

6)      Authorization for Release of Protected Heath Information

Your Authorization for Release of Protected Health Information allows you to identify the individuals who will be allowed to obtain your protected health information in order to make informed health care decisions.

7)      General Durable Power of Attorney/ Uniform Statutory Form Power of Attorney

Both the General Durable Power of Attorney and the Uniform Statutory Form Power of Attorney address the management of your property and estate if you become incapacitated.  Some financial institutions require the General Durable Power of Attorney while other institutions require the Uniform Statutory Form.  With a Power of Attorney, you are authorizing an agent to manage your estate (i.e. you are authorizing your agent to transfer property into your Trust, make withdrawals from your retirement assets, or do anything else that you would want your agent to do if you become incapacitated).

8)      Assignment of Personal Property

This document transfers all of your tangible personal property, including jewelry, clothing, household furniture, works of art, artifacts, electronic equipment, etc. into the Trust.  This document will also transfer in all tangible property that you currently own, as well as property you acquire in the future.

9)      Personal Property Memorandum

A Personal Property Memorandum is a document that allows you to dispose of additional personal property not specifically referred to in your Trust. For example, if you have a special painting that you would like to leave to your daughter, you can handwrite on this Personal Property Memorandum and indicate that this painting should be left to your daughter.  This is the only document in your entire estate plan that you can write on.