The 4 Parts of Estate Planning in California

Estate Planning

Estate planning can feel like a very complicated and lengthy process, but at Merrill, Arnone & Jones, we want to make it easy for you, as it is a necessary thing to do to protect yourself, your family, and your finances.

An estate plan is much more than a will. It is what an individual chooses to do with their personal belongings, real estate, and holdings should something happen to them. We want to ensure that your property will be divided according to you as opposed to the California Probate Code.

Probate can be a lengthy and expensive process that will cause your loved one’s more pain and hardship. A thorough and detailed estate plan gives your family peace of mind.

Here’s the 4 parts to a California Estate Plan


Everybody should have a will that they feel confident that it is valid and legal. Drafting your will with local lawyers is an opportunity to direct how your property will be divided in the event of your death as opposed to it being admitted into California probate.

There are several California laws regarding what is necessary to have for a will to be legally binding. We recommend drafting a will with an experienced estate lawyer.


A living trust is a legal entity that makes transferring assets from one person to another easier. Essentially, assets are owned by your beneficiary but wholly under your control until the event of your death. A trust should be used in combination with a will.

There are multiple kinds of trusts and options available for all family types and individual’s needs, and we would be happy to find one that works for your circumstances.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney grants someone else authority over your property and finances should you find yourself suddenly unable to make decisions. The person that you choose would be allowed to make these difficult decisions for you.

Advanced Healthcare Directive

Similar to the Power of Attorney, an Advanced Healthcare Directive lays out to others and healthcare professionals what decisions you’d like them to make if you are unable to do so. In California, this must be signed in front of 2 witnesses or a notary public.

If you are suddenly ill or injured, this directive would show who to turn to for medical decisions.

A California Estate Plan is never complete. It should be adjusted every few years and after any significant life events. If you have any questions or concerns about your Estate Plan, please contact us here or call our Sonoma County office at (707) 528-2882. We are here to help you plan for the future.

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