Whittier Estate Planning Lawyer
Most Californians have basic health insurance, even though many people never use it. In fact, many Californians have advanced health insurance plans, although the chances of using it are even more remote. Yet although everyone dies, and some people die unexpectedly, very few Californians even have a basic estate plan. This failure places their assets, and their childrens’ future, at risk.
The compassionate Whittier estate planning lawyers at The Probate Guy understand that it’s not easy to discuss death on any level. It’s certainly uncomfortable to prepare for it. So, we make the estate planning process as easy as possible. After a thoughtful conversation, in which we determine your needs and goals, we skillfully craft an estate plan that meets those objectives. We can do all these things in as little as one office visit.
Basic Estate Planning Tools
A one-office-visit estate plan usually includes a will, living will, and power of attorney. These three basic documents give you almost total control of most end-of-life issues.
Wills allow you to give specific items to specific people. They also allow you to include certain heirs, such as step-children, and exclude others. The laws of intestacy (dying without a will) have no such flexibility.
Additionally, wills usually include testamentary trusts for minor children. People under 18 usually cannot own or inherit property. A streamlined testamentary trust removes the uncertainty in this process.
As life expectancy increases, living wills become more important. Doctors take oaths to extend life at all costs. These measures are beneficial in general, but they might not be beneficial in certain situations. In these situations, a stranger might make important medical decisions. Living wills allow you to make these decisions yourself, free of the emotional strain that moments like these produce.
Speaking of decisions, if you are incapable of taking care of your own affairs, for any reason, a power of attorney appoints a trusted person to make these decisions for you. An attorney in fact is an agent, which means this person has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the principal, which is you. A fiduciary duty is the highest level of responsibility under California law.
Why You Need Advanced Estate Planning
If you have any valuable assets which you want to pass to your heirs, you probably need some advanced estate planning tools. The benefits are hard to ignore.
- Tax Issues: In most cases, revocable trusts avoid probate but not estate taxes. Irrevocable trusts avoid both, but they also could mean surrendering control of the asset. A Whittier estate planning attorney can help you find the best of both worlds in these situations.
- A Legacy: This legacy could be with your family or with your community. Advanced estate plans usually include a combination of both. In some cases, this legacy can last for hundreds of years.
- Asset Safety: Trusts and other vehicles shield wealth from events like adverse creditor actions and divorces. A family limited partnership is an especially popular and effective tool in this area.
Revocable trusts allow settlors (people who make trusts) to add or subtract property from the corpus (items in the trust) as long as they live. Irrevocable trusts are set in stone at the time they are made. Basically, a trust changes legal ownership of an asset, but especially in a revocable trust, does not change practical ownership.
Reach Out to a Dedicated Orange County Lawyer
Either a basic or advanced estate plan gives you additional peace of mind. For a free consultation with an experienced Whittier estate planning lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Robert L. Cohen. Virtual, home, and after-hours visits are available.