There is a common assumption that New Year’s resolutions are as easily broken as they are made, but data indicates that Californians fare much better than other parts of the US. Patch California, an independent news platform that focuses on local stories and information, reported on the phenomenon in a January 12, 2020 article.
The analysis compared more than 180 US cities and assessed 57 different resolution indicators, ranging from getting better grades and increasing work performance to losing weight and quitting bad habits.
One indicator of note that placed several California cities at the top of the list was that residents tend to keep resolutions they make regarding financial considerations. When they dedicate themselves to building and sticking to a budget, paying down debt, increasing savings, and other objectives, Californians experience considerable success.
Charles D. Stark, a Sonoma County attorney who focuses on wills, trusts, and estate planning, noted another financial New Year’s resolution.
“If you don’t already have a will, health care advance directive, a durable power of attorney for property, and a living will, it’s important to put the task on your list for 2020. Estate plans aren’t just for the rich or the elderly. Everyone needs at least the basics, though some individuals might opt for more complex trusts and tax planning. Now is the time to make 2020 the year you address your estate planning needs.”
To summarize, the specific documents included in Mr. Stark’s words of advice are:
- Wills: Through this document, a person appoints an executor to manage assets and wrap up final affairs at death. The testator also names individuals and/or entities as beneficiaries who will receive estate assets.
- Health Care Advance Directive: A principal can appoint an agent to handle decisions regarding medical treatment and care, in the event that the principal is incapacitated.
- Living Will: This document is incorporated into the health care advance directive, and it allows a person to express his or her wishes regarding medical treatment in designated situations. For instance, someone can indicate in a living will that he or she does not want artificial means of life support under certain circumstances.
- Durable Power of Attorney: This document is used to name an agent to make financial decisions and manage assets if the principal cannot do so because of disability or incapacity. It eliminates the need for going to court to request appointment of a guardian, a legal process that can be costly.
Since the details regarding each of these documents are complicated, it is wise to consult with an experienced estate planning lawyer.