The time is now: Especially during the pandemic when travel is limited and access to a loved one in a medical facility is restricted, estate planning is critical. It starts with an advance health care directive that can be obtained from the doctor or by a simple Google search. Without an advance health care directive, how will the people you love have the authority they need, and the instructions they will crave, to care for you?
It doesn’t matter what you have, it is about who you love: Estate planning is not always about money and usually those with less have more reason to get a plan in place. A failure to plan may mean that loved ones will be tied up in the court system wasting money seeking permission to take care of you or seeking permission and instruction on the distribution of your assets.
Money can’t get in the way: If you truly cannot afford an attorney (and please only work with an attorney who dedicates their practice to estate planning, not a lawyer who thinks it is an easy “profit center” for the law practice,) there are options for low-cost estate planning:
First, the state of California provides statutory forms for advance health care, durable power of attorney, and statutory wills. While these are not always the ideal solution, they are better than California’s default estate plan of (1) conservatorship, (2) distribution of your assets according to the “table of consanguinity”, according to the wishes of a judge who does not know you and (3) the placement of minor children where it is necessary and convenient.
Next: there are many terrific low-cost solutions for estate planning in the Bay Area.
Open Door Legal in San Francisco is the country’s first system of universal access to legal help.
HERA (Housing and Economic Rights Advocates) Their website says it all: “The is a racial and gender wealth gap in our country. HERA provides full service estate planning services on a sliding scale to help you keep what you have and protect yourself and family.”
The Bay Area Legal Incubator in Oakland is a community of solo attorneys dedicated to providing affordable legal services and promoting social justice. BALI provides lawyers with the support they need to start a successful solo practice, and in exchange, the lawyers provide access to legal services at lower costs, often on a sliding scale.