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Do I Need an Estate Plan as a California First Responder?

Posted on in Estate Planning

California estate planning attorneysThere are many occupations that can be potentially dangerous, such as construction workers, medical professionals, or law enforcement personnel. First responders including police officers, firefighters, and EMTs have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, responding to calls and treating patients who are ill. These workers risk their lives on a daily basis in order to protect the citizens of their communities. Studies have shown that first responders have a greater chance of serious to life-threatening workplace injuries than those working in other industries. Therefore, it is critical for them to think of the future, as difficult as it may be. Creating a comprehensive estate plan that outlines your care and assistance for your spouse or children in the event that you become disabled or pass away can prevent disputes between your loved ones.

Planning Ahead

Since first responders face significant hazards in the line of duty, injuries can be severe. For example, if a police officer sustains a gunshot wound from a perpetrator, it could result in paralysis or brain damage. Serious injuries such as these require long-term care and a victim may even need around-the-clock assistance or life-support machines in order to breathe. When this occurs, a valid estate plan can give directives on medical decisions if the injured person cannot make them on his or her own.     

A few important elements of a California estate plan for first responders include:

  • Powers of Attorney: A durable power of attorney (POA) grants someone the authority to make decisions on your behalf, which is especially important if you suffer an injury or illness that makes you mentally incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. Typically, this is a spouse or other trusted family member who can manage your property and finances and also your personal care.
  • Advance Healthcare Directives: This document specifies your preferences for medical care, treatment, and life-sustaining measures if you are incapacitated. In addition, it names a power of attorney who can make determinations related to your healthcare should an issue arise and you cannot make a decision. 
  • Wills: A will is a legally binding document that states how you want your property and assets distributed after your death. It will include the name(s) the people and/or organizations that will receive your assets. A will can also name a legal guardian if you have minor children and their mother is no longer living, is incapacitated, or deemed unfit. You can also name an executor who will handle your estate during the probate process.
  • Trusts: Similar to a will, a trust is a different way of passing assets to your beneficiaries. You can set aside funds or property to be managed by a trustee and distributed according to conditions that you establish. Trusts do not have to go through the probate process, and certain trusts can also protect your assets from creditors and estate taxes.

Contact a San Francisco County Estate Planning Attorney

Regardless of what line of work you are in, having an estate plan is essential to making sure your wishes are carried out if you become incapacitated or upon your death. A knowledgeable Bay Area estate planning lawyer can help you draft an estate plan that is right for you and your family. The Law Office of Martin Alperen understands California laws and how they may impact your unique situation. Attorney Alperen has extensive experience in both the government and private sectors, including law enforcement officer and as a search and rescue team leader. Known as “The Rolling Attorney,” Attorney Alperen will meet clients wherever they are for added convenience. To schedule your free case evaluation, call our office today at 415-534-1200. 


Sources:

https://oag.ca.gov/consumers/general/estate-finance  

https://www.courts.ca.gov/8865.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/programs/epr/risks.html

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