What is my role as an estate planner in California? I gather personal and financial information from my clients in order to assess what estate planning product or products are best suited to their needs.
During our conversation, which usually lasts an hour, I learn about family conflicts. I am sometimes asked what they should do about their conflict. I will venture an opinion, but I always emphasize that it is just an opinion.
At the end of the conversation, if I have not already done so, I explain the different tools and techniques that I think are suitable to their situation. Once we have agreed, we adjourn.
I then draft the documents (typically it will include a will for the husband, a will for the wife, a revocable trust, a power of attorney for healthcare for each and a power of attorney for financial affairs for each).
Once the draft is complete I send it to my clients for their review and approval. Once satisfied, they return to my office to sign the documents (in front of witnesses for the wills, in front of a notary for the trust and other documents).
What happens next is up to them. I encourage clients to discuss their estate plans with their beneficiaries (usually children). That way, if there is going to be any pushback, it can happen while the parent is alive and able to discuss the situation (as opposed to making it a surprise for the child after the parent has died).