I am the Dawn of the end of his life. At least that’s what my dad says. My name is Dawn Brock and I am the youngest of E. Lawrence Brock’s children. For as long as I can remember my dad has had his own law office in Chino, California. The office has been as much a part of my life as living in my house. I visited the office long before I ever started working there. When I was little, if my dad forgot something at work I would go back with him to retrieve it. When I got older, I started working there as the cleaning lady. Slowly, I gained more responsibility until I became a secretary. So many memories include that office and going to there has always been an important part of my life.
My dad has always been my amazing father, but he has also always been a lawyer. He never explicitly stated to us children that protecting our assets and having an Estate Plan was important. However, by watching him work and how he deals with his clients showed it to be an important truth.
For the longest time, I didn’t know what an Estate Plan encompassed, but I knew its importance. I knew it had something to do with protecting your assets after you died and distributing your valuables to those you wanted to receive them. However, I didn’t know the extent of what an Estate Plan does for you. Now, after years of working for my father, I have a limited knowledge of what an Estate Plan entails. I can’t explain it in any official capacity but maybe my simplistic view can shed some light on what may appear as a complicated process.
First, an Estate Plan is more than just one document. It is a group of documents that together protect you more completely than just a Will or Trust alone. The documents include a Trust, a Pour-Over Will, a General Power of Attorney, an Advanced Health Care, the HIPAA, and the Assignment of Personal Property. These main documents make up the contents of most Estate Plans. Each aspect of the Estate Plan does something different, but as a whole, they all work together to give you the greatest protection possible.
The Trust, the largest document, explains where all your assets go and who gets what after you pass away. The Pour-Over Will is, in essence, extra insurance for any assets not in the trust. It states that anything you own not already in the Trust will be distributed by or pored over into the Trust. The Power of Attorney is the document that explains who will be in charge of decisions for you when you are no longer able to make sound decisions. The Advanced Health Care tells the doctors how long to or not to keep you on life support and other medical procedures. The HIPAA tells the doctors who you have allowed access your medical records. Finally, the Assignment of Personal Property is the document that gives you the ability to give specific assets to specific people.
People might wonder why there needs to be so much detail in an Estate Plan. Why can’t they just write a will stating this person gets this and that’s all? Even though that sounds simpler, in the end, it isn’t. If you create a Will in that manner most likely something will be forgotten. That one forgotten thing can create a wedge that will leave an estate in Probate for years. As the daughter of an Estate Planning attorney, I think it is easier to contest a document with vague wording, rather than a set of documents that all work together to create a secure future for your assets and your legacy.