As the season of gift-giving rolls around, families and friends are considering what those they love could truly benefit from. While another winter sweater maybe a cherished tradition, there is one gift that will help your family well into the future — an estate plan prepared by an Orange County estate planning attorney.
This one gift provides increased financial security while reducing conflict and potential complications.
Let's take a look at how giving your family the gift of an estate plan leads to these many benefits.
There are four main documents found within most comprehensive estate plans created by an estate planning lawyer in Orange County such as wills and trusts, guardianship designations, and power of attorney.
Your will provides a set of instructions for your family that includes how you would like your estate distributed.
It also names the executor or the person you've encharged with overseeing the settling of your estate. Without this document, these important decisions are left to each state and the courts where families battle for "their fair share."
Another important document found within an estate plan is the declaration of guardianship. If you have minor children, this document declares who their guardian will be should both their parents pass on. Without this, children can end up in Child Protective Services while the courts determine who will raise your children.
Unfortunately, history is rich with families fighting over inheritances and guardianship rights. These disputes can lead to lengthy and expensive legal battles as well as broken family ties that are never mended.
When American actor Marlon Brando died in 2004, his estate was mired with numerous lawsuits because of his decision to change his estate executors just two weeks short before he passed. The said lawsuits were probably the result of his personal relationships and an unclear number of children.
In addition, a claim by his former caregiver that Brando broke a verbal contract between them and in the end, his executors agreed to paid Angela Borlaza $125,000 to settle the lawsuit.
While a will reduces conflict among family members, it does not keep your estate out of probate, a lengthy legal process that occurs when the deceased does not have a trust.
During probate, courts determine the validity of a will, if one exists, review assets, and determine who receives them. This process can take anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on the complexity of the estate.
The result is that your family may be left without the ability to pay bills, including funeral fees and outstanding medical bills while waiting for probate to settle. The financial strain only intensifies as they watch your estate eaten up by attorney's fees.
The best way to provide for your family is to ensure your assets pass to your heirs without going through probate.
A comprehensive estate plan developed by an estate planning attorney in Orange County CA includes trust and incorporates tax reduction strategies, enabling your family to keep as much money as possible.
Life is unpredictable. If you'd like help planning your estate, contact our team at Parker Law Offices today.