Ain't life full of surprises? A couple months back a friend of mine up and died while sitting at his desk in the office. One heart attack and he was snuffed out leaving behind 2 daughters and a wife. Yesterday, my wife's nephew's wife gave birth to their first child (congratulations). A beautiful boy - rosy, juicy cheeks and everything. I remember when my daughter was born. She was the most beautiful person I had ever seen (next to my wife on our wedding day, of course). What bothers me is that with all of life's ups and downs, you never know when you're going to breathe your last breath. Yeah, I know - that sounds pretty morbid and all but when you're a dad (as I am now), I'm always (well, maybe not always - but a whole lot) thinking of what my daughter is going to have to face on her own and later without me and/or my wife at her side.
It's thoughts like these that have been driving me to research something a bit more personal as of late - specifically, the creation of my family estate plan. You know - a will, powers of attorney (health and financial), and a trust. While some states don't really care if you have a trust (as they treat trusts like a will and toss everything into probate), California still revers trusts as a sacred document. Mess it up, and your estate is royally screwed. So, what can you do to protect yourself? What resources are out there than can help you plan now for the inevitable end game?! Glad you asked.
If you're living in California, the Continuing Education of the Bar (aka "CEB") has a great title called Drafting California Revocable Trusts. Other resources by CEB that are helpful include California Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives, California Will Drafting, Special Needs Trusts: planning, drafting, and administration, and Funding a Revocable Trust.
Don't live in California? Then what you might want to check out is The Estate Planning Series (Justice Publications). You might also want to look at Drafting Wills and Trust Agreements (West) or Last Wills and Testaments Line by Line: a detailed look at last wills & testaments and how to change them to meet your needs (West). I'm sure there are other resources out there in Internet land but this should get you started with your own estate plans.