What is “Estate Planning”?

Most people do Estate Planning because they want to control who will receive their assets after they die, and they want to accomplish this with the least amount of their Estate going to legal fees and taxes. But Estate Planning is not just about what happens after you die. A good Estate Plan will also protect you in the event you become incapacitated. In the event you can no longer make decisions, a good Estate Plan will set forth how your assets will be handled and other important matters such as your Medical Care.

Estate Planning is a Process
  • Protect your spouse and children from stress, unpleasantness and expense.
  • Distribute property in accordance with your wishes and values.
  • Provide for your children through the selection of guardians and provision of assets.
  • Many families find that the Process of Estate Planning, including selecting and talking with their chosen Trustee of their Estate and Guardian of their children (should a guardian be needed), has the immediate benefit of peace of mind.
Consider what may happen if you don’t have an Estate Plan
  • California will restrict use of your assets.
  • Even if you have no will, California Law already has an inheritance plan for you but one that you may not like. If you die without a will (called “intestate’), your assets will go to your "Heirs at Law."
  • Half of your separate property must be put into a separate Court-supervised Trust for each of your children, restricting your Spouse's ability to use the money.
  • Separate trusts hurt the child with special needs due to an Illness, Accident, or other problem, because your Spouse cannot use the other children's trusts to meet those needs, no matter how serious or urgent.
  • 100% of the assets will be distributed when your child is 18, regardless of maturity level or financial savvy.
  • California will decide who raises your children.
  • If the other Parent does not survive or is not a Custodial Parent then the court will choose your Child's Guardian.
  • If your Family or Friends disagree about who should raise your children, the court will have to step in, resulting in high legal costs and possible family rifts that never heal.
Estate Planning saves money
  • Probate fees cost up to 8% of the gross value of the assets in your Estate. This is based on the gross values before subtracting debt.
  • Estate taxes of up to 55% of the current values of your assets (after subtracting debt) if your net worth plus Life Insurance Benefits exceed current limit set by the Federal Death Tax. Call our Office for an estimate.
Estate Planning is a benefit to your Family

Your Family will spend lots of time and money that could have been saved if you had made a prior Estate Plan. It is so much easier on the survivors emotionally and financially if they can consult with the Family Attorney about the Administration of your Estate Plan after you pass.

The Probate Process

Probate is the process the Court uses to supervise the transfer of assets from a person who has died to the new lawful owners. But first, the court must ensure that all of the decedent's debts and taxes are paid.

Probate can be relatively fast and inexpensive in a few cases:
  • Where the decedent's assets are under certain limits which vary depending on the type of asset.
  • Where a surviving Spouse inherits all assets and there are no child beneficiaries.
In most other cases, Probate is a lengthy process. Fees in Probate includes:
  • Attorney Fees
  • Administrative Fees
  • Filing Fees and Bond Premium Fees
You should always consult an Attorney before you start probate.

Call our Office for a free consultation.