There are few things as intimidating as the task of completing your estate plan. The best time to plan for your incapacity or passing, though, is while you’re still healthy.
With a little time, effort, and guidance from a trusted estate planning professional, you can develop a plan to protect your family and get peace of mind. Failing to complete a proper estate plan can place the security of your family and assets in jeopardy. Put your affairs in order today—book a free estate planning consultation with a Calabasas estate planning attorney.
What is Your Estate?
Your estate is comprised of everything you own: your home (including all the stuff inside your home), bank accounts, 401k, business holdings, investment accounts, etc. In addition to what you own, your estate must also consider your minor children and pets.
It’s important to be thoughtful and strategic about how, when, and to whom your estate is divided and distributed. Inaction can lead to the government taking over control of the distribution of your assets after you pass. This is known as intestacy and generally involves probate court. This intestacy process leaves your loved ones with few options and places your legacy in the hands of the government.
The Benefits of an Estate Plan
A well-prepared estate plan can ensure the safety and security of your family long after you have passed. A financial planner can help you make important financial decisions about your estate while you’re still in good health and help ensure your trust is funded and safeguarded for the next generation.
If your trust is unfunded (meaning you haven’t put any money or assets in it), your loved ones could face a public, costly, and time-consuming probate process upon your death. Don’t worry, funding the trust sounds complicated but working with a professional like us makes it fairly easy.
The Trouble with Using a Will Only
Many presume that a will is more than enough to convey their wishes for their estate after they pass. Unfortunately, with only a will, the plans for your assets are only effective upon your death and require probate court proceeding to work. If you become incapacitated, your assets will be under the control of a court-appointed conservator.
Even when your distribution plans for your assets are honored, it is easy for loved ones to see an inheritance as a windfall. Too often, a person’s legacy is frittered away by poor decisions made by grieving family members.
That’s why most inheritances are gone within a mere five years of receipt. A failure to consider the long-term implications of their financial choices often results in one’s inheritance disappearing practically overnight.
With the help of an estate planning lawyer, you can ensure your beneficiaries are taken care of and that the assets are distributed in a way that will be the most beneficial to all involved.
How Our Calabasas Estate Planning Lawyers Help You
At Hermance Law, we offer strategic legal advice and estate planning services tailored to your family and financial dynamic.
Here are four ways we can use estate planning tools to help you.
Wills: Making Your Wishes Known
A last will and testament is a signed and witnessed written document whose terms go into effect when you die. With it, you can designate beneficiaries, select guardians for young children, and appoint an Executor of your estate.
Drafting a will is a quick and painless way of allowing your wishes to be known, and therefore a great starting point for beginners. Speak with a Calabasas will lawyer to ensure your will is drafted legally, ethically, and properly according to your wishes.
Trusts: Asset Protection That Works
Creating a living trust is one of the best ways to avoid probate. Trusts come in various forms, but their overall purpose is to set aside assets for your heirs and prevent those assets from being forced through the costly and time-consuming probate process.
Trusts work by transferring ownership of the assets from your name to a trustee, who manages the assets on behalf of your beneficiaries. Our Calabasas trust lawyers can help set up a trust document that meets your needs and assist in trust administration when the time comes.
Guardianship: Estate Planning for the Vulnerable
When it comes to estate planning, planning for the vulnerable is a must. An estate plan can be used to address concerns regarding the care of young children, special needs family members, and incapacitated adults.
Speak to one of our Calabasas guardianship attorneys about establishing guardianship and how you can ensure your loved ones have a bright future.
Probate: What Happens When You Don’t Plan
Without proper estate planning, you leave your estate at the mercy of your local probate court. Even with a will, you risk the details of your estate becoming public knowledge and your loved ones fighting in probate court over their rights to property, accounts, and other assets.
Should your family find themselves heading to court for probate matters, our experienced probate lawyers can help them navigate the probate process, ensuring things go as smoothly as possible.