Orange Estate Planning Lawyer
Most Californians have absolutely no estate planning documents in place. Some individuals never make any arrangements at all. So, their end-of-life decisions, as well as issues like the distribution of their assets and the guardianship of their children, are left to the state. Still other individuals use do-it-yourself wills they found on the internet. These documents might or might not be enforceable.
In as little as one office visit, the experienced Orange estate planning lawyers at The Probate Guy can craft a fully-enforceable set of estate planning documents which are tailored to your family’s needs. Then, you are in the driver’s seat. The state has no power over your family’s future in this area. Furthermore, this estate planning package could be complete as is, or the core of a much more comprehensive plan.
Basic Estate Planning Tools
A will, living will, and power of attorney are the three basic estate planning documents in California. These three simple documents give you almost complete control over some of the most important decisions in life.
Wills put your final requests in black and white. These requests, when it comes to your heirs and property, are usually binding. While the content of a will is largely up to the testator (person making the will), there are some technical requirements which are basically set in stone. For example, the will must usually be witnessed by two or more people who heard the testator recite certain phrases, saw the testator sign, and were in the room the entire time.
Living wills are also known as directives to physicians and DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders. Doctors swear oaths to improve the health of their patients. Even if a lifesaving intervention is very costly, financially and/or emotionally, and very risky, the doctor must usually at least attempt it.
A living will gives a doctor an out. Unless a directive to physicians is on file and in the doctor’s hand, the medical staff makes treatment decisions. That’s especially true since, in many end-of-life situations, the patient is incapacitated under California law.
Powers of attorney give makers control over financial and other matters when they are unable to do so. Legally, the attorney-in-fact is an agent. Agents have a legal duty to act in the best interests of the principal.
In many cases, the basic estate planning components are only a starting point. If you have additional assets which need protection, our Orange estate planning lawyers can show you a variety of advanced estate planning options, such as:
- Trusts: There are a variety of trusts available in California. Essentially, these vehicles allow settlors (people who create trusts) to pass assets to their heirs while they retain control over these assets during their lifetimes. Trusts are also private and, in many cases, completely avoid the probate process.
- Non-Voting Stock: Business owners can transfer financial stakes without surrendering control until the appropriate time by issuing non-voting stock to family members. This strategy avoids large estate taxes which can cripple many businesses.
- Buy-Sell Agreements: Somewhat similarly, buy-sell agreements restrict business interest transfers. Typically, these agreements also give heirs a way to buy the shares of a deceased owner or co-owner. Many individuals also tailor their life insurance policies to reflect these wishes.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to estate planning options. Our professional team has almost unlimited latitude when it comes to customizing a plan which meets your needs.
Connect with a Diligent Orange County Lawyer
You can take steps now to protect your heirs and assets later. For a free consultation with an experienced Orange probate lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Robert L. Cohen. We routinely handle matters throughout SoCal.