We simplify things that seem complicated.
An estate plan is simply a set of legal documents that instruct your loved ones how to manage your assets when you pass away, and if you have young children, it identifies the persons you want to raise your children. It also authorizes the persons you choose to manage your assets and make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
An estate plan can also leverage your assets to reduce or eliminate estate taxes and capital gains taxes, and it can be structured to significantly protect the inheritance you leave your spouse and children from divorce claims and lawsuits.
As you can see, estate planning has to do with death and taxes, and as Ben Franklin said, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Since everyone will have to deal with death and taxes, everyone needs an estate plan.
The type of estate plan you need will depend on your family, your assets and your goals.
The building blocks of an estate plan are a revocable living trust, will, durable power of attorney, health care directive and HIPAA and a trust transfer deed for your home.
Revocable Living Trust
You are working hard to provide for your family. It’s time to protect what you’ve earned. A revocable living trust estate plan does just that. It lays out how you want your assets to go when you pass away. Without it, your family will go through expensive and complicated probate, and the State of California will decide who gets your assets.
If you don't have assets that will go through probate, a Will might be sufficient.
Real estate worth more than $50,000 and bank and investment accounts with a total value of more than $166,250 will go through probate.
A Will is also the document that names Guardians to raise your minor children if you can't.
Durable Power of Attorney
The Durable Power of Attorney authorizes family or friends to help manage your finances and assets if you become incapacitated.
Health Care Directive and HIPAA
The Health Care Directive and HIPAA authorize family or friends to make health care decisions for you if you can't and allows them to talk to your doctor and medical staff.
Your parent had a living trust. Now they’ve passed away. What do you do?
If your parent passes away, there are things you will need to do, even if he or she has a living trust. But not immediately. Take the time to attend to family matters. We tell our clients to take care of the funeral or other arrangements first. The trust administration can wait while you give yourself and your family time to grieve and celebrate the life of your parent.
Usually, a few weeks later is soon enough to sort out the estate issues. If your mom or dad had a living trust and had transferred their assets to the trust, then hopefully the trust administration will go smoothly. Here is a short list of tasks to be done:
Lodge the pour-over will with the county probate court.
Notify the California Department of Health Care Services.
Send a statutory notice to the trust beneficiaries.
Send copies of the trust to beneficiaries.
Make a list of the estate assets and values and creditors and debts.
Keep track of all expense payments. Beneficiaries may ask for an accounting.
If your parent owned real property, you have to decide whether to sell it or transfer the title to the beneficiaries.
Most people handling their parent’s or loved one’s trust administration hire an attorney to help them with the process. Trust administration is a big part of our practice and we've developed a way to simplify the process. Let us know if we can help.
How do you work with your clients?
We treat our clients like we would want to be treated:
- It's easy to contact us
- We return emails and calls within 24 hours, if not the same day
- No billable hours - so it's free to contact us with questions
- Transparent, flat fee pricing
- We explain legal and tax concepts in a simple, easy to understand way
- Most virtual estate plans can be completed in less than one week
- When we are finished helping you, you will say, "Wow, that was way easier than I expected!"
What's the virtual experience like?
It's really nice.
- Not having to fill out complicated online forms
- Not having to drive to a law office two or three times
- Not having to schedule a babysitter because you have to meet at the attorney's office
- Not stressing out about how hard it will be to talk about estate planning
Do I need an estate plan?
- You need a Will so you, not the State of CA , can determine how your assets will be distributed and so you can pick your guardians for your kids.
- You need a Revocable Living Trust if you have assets that would go through probate and you want your loved ones to avoid probate.
- You need a Durable Power of Attorney so others can help you with your finances if you become incapacitated.
- You need an Advance Health Care Directive and HIPAA so others can make healthcare decisions for you if you can't.
What is probate and why is it bad?
Real estate worth more than $50,000 and other assets worth more than $166,250, will go through probate. Probate is bad because it's a public and expensive court process that typically takes about one year for the court to approve the transfer of your assets to your loved ones.
If you have a trust, your loved ones can avoid probate, and your assets can be privately distributed to your loved ones without court intervention.
What is a lifetime protection trust?
A lifetime protection trust is a trust within a trust. We can include lifetime protection trusts in your revocable living trust for your children. A lifetime protection trust will significantly protect your children's inheritance from divorce claims and lawsuits.
What is trust administration?
When someone dies with a trust, the successor trustee must administer the trust. While not as complicated or expensive as probate, trust administration is still a formal legal process that must be followed. We help our clients navigate the process.
Can you help clients outside of CA?
Not yet. But coming soon.