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Five Legal Documents You Need Now!

Updated: Feb 21, 2020

Most people find that talking about death-especially their own-to be highly uncomfortable. That's probably why so many people fail to plan their estates. Some people make the effort but don't follow through. Other folks follow through but don't update their estate plans as their lives change.

If you want to plan all aspects of your estate, turn to Sarah Gubler at Gubler Winn Trusts & Estates. Using her expert, in-depth experience on this topic since 2009, Ms. Gubler helps people and their families navigate their ways through the process, which has more than its share of twists, turns and complexities.

Make your estate plan work for you and your heirs by staying in control of your money and medical decisions with these crucial documents:

First, most people should have a trust. A trust allows you to designate exactly who will receive your assets (spouse? children?) and how/when the assets should be received. In the event of a tragedy, do you want your children to receive an influx of cash? This can burden a child and derail his or her plans. It can also be avoided by putting your assets in trust and then choosing when and in what matter your estate should be distributed. A trust also allows your assets to be distributed without any oversight by a court. It's private and personal and can be handled by the person of your choosing.

Next, you will need a will. This is an important companion-document to your trust, as it ensures that all of your things ultimately get distributed exactly how you choose. Some people may decide to get a will only. While doing so will certainly get your money where you want it to go after you die, in California, a will must be "probated." This means, that your loved ones will have to file your will with a court and then wait from six months to two years while a court oversees the administration of the will. A trust, on the other hand, avoids probate altogether.

You should also designate a financial power of attorney (POA). The person you designate will have power to help you with your financial affairs if you become incapacitated and can no longer make decisions. This is also a helpful document long before you become incapacitated if, for example, you're leaving the country or are otherwise unable to handle certain things back home. Appoint someone to act on your behalf with a POA.

In California, an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) allows you to choose who will make medical decisions for you if you can't on your own. Your designee will, among other things, have access to your medical records, consult with your doctors and admit you to a hospital or long-term care facility. In your AHCD, you can also put in writing exactly what kind of end-of-life care you want (and do NOT want) to take the guess-work out of what can often be a pretty stressful time for families.

Finally, if you have young children, you should name guardians for them in the unlikely event that something happens to you and your spouse. This will avoid confusion and delay in the sensitive period following a tragedy. It will also allow a court to know your answer to the critical question of who should raise your kids.

There are additional ways to plan for your family, and Sarah Gubler would love to discuss them with you. At the office of Gubler Winn Trusts & Estates, Sarah Gubler will design documents tailored specifically to your family, your assets and your plans for the future. Contact Gubler Winn Trusts & Estates today at (760) 280-2460 or

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