Protect Your Estate with Our Orange County Estate Planning Attorney

Regardless of what you might think, estate planning isn't just for the rich, elderly, or famous.
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Plan and protect your loved ones' future.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is essentially creating a legal plan for the transfer of your property and assets after your death. Your estate consists of all the property you own.

Estate planning typically has several main goals, such as:

  • Making sure that your estate is transferred to your beneficiaries according to your wishes.
  • Limiting the amount of estate tax.
  • Assigning guardians to minor children, when applicable.

While many people believe that estate planning should only happen after you retire or when faced with a terminal illness or injury, the reality is that an accident or other situation can arise without warning. Therefore, the prudent thing is to have the documents in place before they are needed.

Estate planning is best done by an Orange County estate planning lawyer while you're legally competent and in good mental health. Estate plans should be reviewed and updated throughout 

What Is Included In An Estate Plan?

It's common for people to think an estate plan is simply a will and nothing more.

A comprehensive estate plan consists of four documents and designations. Trust attorneys Orange County may also include long-term care insurance or lifetime annuity in the plan to help prepare for long-term or end-of-life care.

Wills and Trusts

A will is a legal document that contains your instructions for the distribution of your property and assets. If you pass on without a will, your final wishes may not be followed. Instead, probate courts will decide how your assets will be transferred.

More importantly, your friends and family may have to spend enormous amounts of time, money, and emotional energy to help settle your affairs.

While there are some do-it-yourself options out there, seeking advice from law offices or living trust attorneys in Orange County is the best way to ensure your estate is handled properly. A single mistake on a DIY prepared can result in the entire will being unenforceable.

A trust is a legal way of asset protection similar to cash held in a bank account. The creator of the trust (trustor) can use and spend the trust assets during their lifetime. When the trustor dies, the assets are then transferred to a designated beneficiary. There is also a successor trustee who manages the trust to make sure assets are properly transferred.

One of the significant benefits of a trust is that it can avoid probate court and certain taxes. Trust assets can also be transferred immediately and with less hassle through probate attorneys in Orange, CA.

There are a variety of trusts that commonly appear in estate plans. Your Orange County estate planning and probate lawyer will know which trusts suit you and your unique goals.

Power of Attorney (POA)

Estate plans also include a variety of POAs — the most common is the durable power of attorney. This POA is someone who can act on your behalf if you are incapacitated. This document gives the person you choose the authority to enter into financial transactions, deal with real estate, and make other legal transactions on your behalf.
Most people also use their time with an Orange County estate planning attorney to designate a healthcare power of attorney. This POA can make decisions about your care at a point when you can no longer make decisions for yourself.

In severe instances, your healthcare POA may have to make a life or death decision with little time to consider all available options.

Choosing a POA is an important task. Therefore, you may seek advice from a probate attorney Orange County — many people choose their spouses or children. It's also crucial that you update your estate plan once in a while. For example, if you get divorced, you may not want your ex-spouse to make decisions for you. You can also name backup POAs in case your first choice is unable to take on the necessary duties.

Guardianship Designations

Your estate planning attorney in Orange County, CA can incorporate your guardianship decisions into your will or trust. You may also have a separate document for this critical area. If you have minor children, you must consider who would take over raising your kids if something happened to both you and your spouse — the same goes if you need special needs trust for your children or beneficiaries just to ensure they are getting what they need.

End-of-Life Care

Your estate plan is more than just what happens after you die. Your Orange County estate planning attorney can help you come up with decisions that make you knowledgeable about your assets in preparing for your golden years.

This could include everything from ensuring your rights reserved to reviewing your investments to eligibility for state or federally funded assistance programs. The high cost of care facilities, nursing homes, retirement communities, and hospital stays can add up and quickly deplete your estate. With proper planning together with your law group, you can enjoy new peace of mind knowing your senior years won't be full of avoidable stress.

Estate Planning FAQs

Here are answers to some common questions about estate planning. 

What is estate planning?

Your estate encompasses all your property and assets, including land, investments, and even digital property. 

Estate planning is how you prepare to transfer ownership of your various forms of property after your death. This will leave behind a clear legal plan of action for people to follow and ensure that your estate goes to your beneficiaries without any issues.

What are the documents in an estate plan?

Several documents are commonly used in estate plans:

A will is probably the first document that comes to mind, and it's the master plan for how your property and assets are going to be distributed.

Trusts are also found in estate plans, and they protect your assets while giving you control over who will receive them after your death. There are many kinds of trusts, and a California attorney can help you choose the right one. 

Your estate plan may include power of attorney, which gives someone the legal right to decide on their behalf if they are incapacitated. You can have a power of attorney for healthcare and financial decisions.

If you have children, an estate plan will include plans for any children under 18 in the form of guardianship designations. 

What is included in an estate plan?

An estate plan usually includes a will, a trust, and power of attorney designations, at the very least. An attorney at law can advise you on what else you might need to carry out your wishes. 

These documents will provide legal guidance on what to do with your property and assets. Your estate plan can determine when and how your beneficiaries will receive land, personal property, and other assets. 

Why is it important to have estate planning?

Estate planning is the best way to create a smooth transition for your loved ones and beneficiaries after your death. An estate plan will ensure you can control who gets access to your estate and how they access it. 

If you don't have a clear and legally sound estate plan, your assets may have to go to court instead. Unfortunately, this will mean your beneficiaries will have to pay fees and face a long legal process. Probate courts will make the final decisions on how to distribute your estate according to local probate laws and their own judgment. 

When is the right time to consider estate planning?

It's best to start estate planning as soon as possible. Then, if you own assets or property, you can start making plans for what will happen to them after your death.

The future is never certain, and advanced estate planning makes sure you're prepared. A good plan ensures that your beneficiaries access your estate as quickly as possible without facing delays and legal struggles.

What will happen if I die without an estate plan?

If you die without an estate plan, your estate may not be divided according to your wishes. The case will go to probate court instead, where local laws will determine how to distribute your estate and to whom. If you have minor children, the court will also decide who to appoint as guardians. 

In this situation, a percentage of your estate will likely go to paying probate fees, and there will be a delay before your beneficiaries receive anything. 

When should I update or change my estate plan?

You should aim to update your estate plan as often as possible. Some experts suggest that every 3 years is a good rule of thumb, but other situations may necessitate an update.

If there's a change in any relevant laws, or if you move states and are dealing with a different set of laws, you should update your estate plan as soon as possible. 

Don’t Go Into The Process Alone, Contact Us Today

You've worked hard to build up your estate, assets, and property. By working with a professional and an experienced estate planning lawyer in Orange County, California, you'll make sure that your estate planning law will be worth it.

If you're looking for a law office near Laguna Beach, CA that can help ensure your rights, contact us at the phone number below if you have questions and schedule a free consultation with our dedicated trusts lawyers. Our legal group always ensures that our clients and their assets are well taken care of.

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Estate Planning Attorney in Orange County, CA
Wills & Trusts, Estate & Trust Administration, Probate, and Health Care Power of Attorney
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