Estate Planning Made Affordable: Avoid Its Legal Complexities
Usually, the first thing that comes into people’s minds when they hear of estate planning is, “Do I need one.” When a person in California dies, his or her estate needs to be transferred to his or her heirs. This is controlled by the existence or the non-existence of an Estate Plan. If a person dies with property in California, all assets will go through a legal procedure known as Probate if the total value of the estate exceeds $166,250 or if the decedent owned real estate with a value in excess of $55,000. If the decedent’s estate reaches either of these minimums the Probate process will occur if he had no estate plan or even if he had a Will! Many people are surprised to find out that: Their estate must go through Probate whether they have a Will or not! However, estate planning doesn’t have to be difficult. Given the right legal strategy, the whole process involving estate planning shouldn’t have to be wearisome or expensive if you know what you’re doing.
Estate Planning Options
- Do Nothing: If your estate triggers probate in California &/or other states in which you own assets the State will be happy to take control of your estate and distribute your assets according to State law;
- Draft a Will: If you draft a Will and your estate triggers probate, again, the State will be happy to take control of your estate and distribute your assets according to what you Will says. The Will must be signed, dated and witnessed by two uninterested parties over age 18 years who witness you signing your will;
Have a Revocable Living Trust drafted: If you have a properly drafted Living Trust, the person you choose known as a Successor Trustee takes control of your estate and distributes your assets according to the instructions in your trust. While you’re alive you can change the trust to reflect your current wishes. Once you have passed away the Trust becomes irrevocable. Your wishes cannot be changed, and those wishes must be followed by the Successor Trustee. For an estate plan to be effective and enforceable, it needs to include all the necessary documents to facilitate the management of the estate. Ideally, it should include at the very least documents such as a Pour-Over Will, a Power of Attorney for Financial Matters, an Advance Health Care Directive to allow the one you choose to make your health care needs and decisions should you not be able to do so for yourself. Hiring an estate planning lawyer vs Non-Lawyer Companies vs Software Programs
You should never entrust your estate planning to anyone or any “Company” that is not a lawyer or Law Firm. For your own protection, you should never entrust your family and your estate to a company that sells software or a company that “can put you in touch with a lawyer.” Always insist that a California Law Firm practicing in the field of estate protection drafts your trust. IT IS ILLEGAL FOR A NON-ATTORNEY TO DRAFT A TRUST FOR YOU. Lawyers practicing in this field in California do so under the jurisdiction of the State Bar of California. The State Bar of California has no jurisdiction over a “Company” that drafts your trust, or a company that provides you with software. The reason your trust and estate plan are established in the first place is to give you the peace of mind to know that you have gotten your affairs in order (just in case) and your chosen loved ones will not suffer through what might be years of court proceedings and involvement with the legal system.
At first glance, you might think hiring an estate planning lawyer can cost you quite a bit of money. Hiring an experienced estate planning lawyer may actually help you cut down on expensive administrative costs that may be incurred without proper guidance.
The Dimeff Law Office helps you to better understand the intricacies of estate planning and can give you an affordable estate planning option that will give you the peace of mind to know that you now “have your affairs in order.”