While nobody wants to think about death or disability, establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Many people believe that trusts are only for multi-millionaires who wish to leave large trust funds to their children. However, this is far from the truth – trusts are invaluable tools in the estate plans of most individuals.
Why Everyone Needs Estate Planning
- I want to control my property while I’m alive and well.
- I want to plan for my loved ones and myself if I become disabled.
- When I die, I want to give what I want to whom I want, when I want, the way that I want.
- And I’d like to do all of that knowing what it’s going to cost me.
This is what the Estate Planning Law Center can do for you. This is what we do for every family we serve. Estate Planning is not just about what happens to your assets after you pass away. Effective estate planning looks at all of the issues, from death and disability to long term care planning.
What is included in our Foundational Estate Plan?
Revocable Living Trust:
With a living trust, you, as the creator or “grantor” of the trust, maintain complete control over the trust and the assets in the trust while you are alive. You may amend or revoke your trust at any time. You also name the beneficiaries, appoint a “successor trustee” to take over in the event of your incapacity or passing. Finally, you decide how your property will pass at your death. The most important reason to have a living trust is to avoid probate. Unlike with a will, if your property is held in the name of the living trust at your death, your property will pass to the beneficiaries named in the trust, outside of probate. This enables your beneficiaries to avoid the costs and delays of probate. Another benefit of having a living trust is to provide for the ongoing management of trust assets in the event of your incapacity – your successor trustee.
Funding Your Trust:
We prepare the new grant deeds to ensure that your California real property is transferred into your Living Trust. We provide letters of instructions to ensure that the appropriate financial accounts are transferred as well. We analyze proper titling and beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and retirement accounts to make sure they’re up-to-date.
Providing for Incapacity: Durable Power of Attorney:
If you become incapacitated, you won’t be able to manage your own financial affairs. Many are under the mistaken impression that one’s spouse or adult children can automatically take over for them if they become incapacitated. The truth is that in order for others to be able to manage your finances, they must petition a court for the appointment of a conservator. This process is lengthy, costly and stressful. To avoid a “conservatorship” – you need a Durable Power of Attorney wherein you designate someone you trust to act as your “Agent” who will manage your financial accounts, pay bills, handle your mail and much more. If properly drafted (which few are), it can permit your Agent to do Medi-Cal planning and implement other asset protection strategies during your incapacity.
Advance Health Care Directive:
This document gives directions to your physicians and family members regarding continuation of life support systems in the event of terminal illness. It authorizes someone to act as your “Healthcare Agent” to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to (e.g. in a coma).
This document complies with federal and state statutes enabling persons of your choice to consult with your physicians and obtain medical records.
Community Property Agreement:
This document classifies all property as community, in order to ensure complete forgiveness of capital gains tax upon the death of the first spouse. A Marital Property Agreement will classify property that is community or separate property.
Provides a summary of key portions of your Living Trust for third parties such as banks or other financial institutions.
Estate Planning Portfolio Binder (The "Owner’s Manual"):
Besides containing copies of the above documents, it contains crucial information that a successor trustee will need to know such as where important documents are (e.g. life insurance binders), where the financial accounts are, wishes for memorial services, important people to contact and action checklists. It’s an invaluable organizer.
Personalized Service with Attorney Only:
You never meet with a legal assistant or paralegal. All interactions are with the attorney to ensure that all questions are answered.
Free Review Consult Every 2 Years:
We want to be your trusted advisor over your lifetime. We know things change: finances change, relationships change and we all know the law changes. Updates to your estate plan are necessary to keep up with those changes.
All “Foundational Estate Plans” are individually tailored and prepared for a flat fee, quoted in advance, and agreed to by you in writing before any work is done. Your initial consult, to review your particular situation and needs, and to quote a flat fee, is on us. You may require additional “Advanced Planning” which will be quoted separately as needed.