Estate Planning Attorney Serving Throughout Southern California
Most people want to leave a legacy for their loved ones when they pass away. The best way to facilitate this is setting up a clear estate plan to distribute your businesses, property and other assets. Have you taken the time to plan how to distribute your estate? Although you may be under the impression you have no plan, this is not the case. Indeed, there is a plan in place to distribute your estate even if you do not have a will or trust in place…the plan, however, will be dictated by the state of California instead of you.
Revocable Living Trust
A living trust is a document that specifies who will manage any assets you place within the trust (the “trustee”) and who will receive those assets after your death. During your lifetime, you may name yourself as both the trustee and beneficiary, which will enable you to have complete use and control over the trust assets. If you want to revoke or make changes to the trust after creating it, you are free to do so.
Living trusts offer several potential advantages over simple wills. One important advantage involves avoiding probate. Upon death, the assets contained within a properly funded living trust will be distributed to the trust beneficiaries without having to pass through probate. Accordingly, it spares you and your loved ones the costs, public disclosure of assets and time delays associated with probate administration.
Setting up a living trust typically takes more time as compared to creating a simple will. To avoid probate, your assets must be properly transferred into the living trust. If the assets are not properly transferred, a probate proceeding may be required. In addition to drafting living trusts, we also assist our clients in funding those trusts.
A will is a document that specifies what happens to your property and assets when you die. The terms of the will do not take effect until you pass away. Even if you plan on using a living trust as your primary estate planning document, you should strongly consider creating a simple will that tells a court you want the terms of your trust to control and govern your assets upon your death. As a precaution, we offer “pour over wills” which are designed to ensure that any assets left out of a trust will be distributed in accordance with the trust terms.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document which enables you to appoint a representative to make certain financial decisions and conduct certain transactions on your behalf. A power of attorney can authorize an agent to handle ongoing financial needs for specific tasks such as signing a document in your absence. Some examples of these tasks may include:
- Paying Bills
- Filing Tax Returns
- Banking Transactions
- Stock Transactions
- Buying or Selling Property
- Handling Retirement Benefits
- Hiring and Maintaining In-Home Care Takers
A good power of attorney document should clearly state the limitations upon your representative. It should specify when the power of attorney goes into effect and when it expires. A “durable power of attorney” will last until you choose to cancel it or until your death – it is not affected if you subsequently become incapacitated.
Advance Healthcare Directives
An Advance Health Care Directive enables you to express your preferences regarding medical decisions in the event you become incapacitated or are unable to communicate your wishes. This provides guidance to your doctor concerning your medical care. Most importantly, however, it relieves your loved ones from having to make important medical decisions when they are probably already under a significant amount of stress.
We welcome the opportunity to assist you with your estate planning needs. Please contact us by phone or email to arrange a consultation with an estate planning attorney today.