Estate planning is best known as a form of financial planning that determines where your assets will go after you pass away. However, there’s room for lots of other information in your estate plan, including instructions on how to care for your family. To understand this better, you’ll need help from an Orange County estate planning attorney.
When you invest time in your estate plan, you are investing in your loved ones and ensuring they are as comfortable as possible after your death.
An estate plan allows you to clearly divide your assets among friends and family.
Paying bills and tying up loose ends is one of the biggest practical concerns after someone’s death. If you make sure all your documents are legally sound, your loved ones can gain access to important bank accounts and other assets smoothly, allowing them to pay your debts and taxes.
You can use your will to leave specific items or assets to your loved ones. This is especially important if you plan to leave things to people outside your family because if you don’t specify otherwise, inheritance laws will divide your things among your immediate family.
However, a trust allows you to have more control over what happens to your assets after you die. A trustee can manage all the assets contained in your trust, investing them, disbursing payments to beneficiaries, and following your final instructions.
If you have children, your estate plan should include some plans for them in the case of your death or both parents’ deaths.
Guardianship designation is one of the most important aspects of an estate plan for anyone who has children under 18 years old. In your will, you can choose a close friend or relative that you want to be the guardian of your children if both parents pass away.
Choosing a potential guardian should be a thoughtful decision, and it may be a good idea to discuss it with the person you are naming before adding them to your will.
However, once you have selected this person, it ensures that your children will never have to sit through a court session that will determine their new guardian.
Inheritance laws prioritize your children as having a right to any assets you own through the probate process. However, establishing a trust also has its benefits. It can help you bypass probate inheritance laws, expensive fees and even enjoy tax breaks, depending on the type of trust you choose.
If you pass away unexpectedly, family members who depend upon your support financially and in other ways could be left in a desperate situation. If you haven’t created a trust, this means your assets will go through the probate process, which usually takes at least a year (or even longer in many cases) to complete. A well-drafted estate plan allows you to continue to provide for your family members even after your death.
If you don’t create a will or other estate plan documents, your assets will be subject to the probate court, where they will be subject to expensive legal fees and taxes, as well as the Probate Code rules and instructions as to who will receive your property and wealth.
The right estate plan can help you avoid probate court and ensure that your beneficiaries are able to access their inheritances right away.
The sooner they are able to access your assets, the better. They may need the money to cover your medical bills, funeral costs, and other expenses. They will also need to make plans to pay off your debts and taxes. And finally, they may personally benefit from receiving your assets.
Giving your family members access to your bank accounts and other assets upon your death also provides essential financial support as they grieve and settle your affairs.
The trust is one of the most useful parts of an estate plan. It allows you to plan for your loved ones to inherit assets ranging from ownership of cars to bank accounts and real estate. Every trust is different, and a lawyer can help you establish one that is customized to your finances and plans for the future.
There are two main types of trusts, revocable and irrevocable. The former can be changed at any time, including the terms of the trust and beneficiaries. The latter cannot be changed after it has been created and signed. They require careful planning, but they also offer significant tax benefits.
One option is to pass assets directly on to your beneficiaries upon your death. Depending on the type of trust you have chosen, they may be able to avoid certain fees and taxes and the lengthy probate process.
In addition, trusts also give you a lot of control over what will happen to your assets even after your death. It’s possible to include some strings attached to a person’s share of a trust, only giving them full access once they have reached a certain age for example.
This option is especially useful if you have young children or other beneficiaries who might not be ready to handle their full inheritance all at once.
If you have a specific vision for funeral arrangements and burial plans, you can outline these in your will as part of your estate plan.
If you already have a burial plot or headstone, you can mention it in your will and provide instructions on how to find it. You can also leave instructions, such as whether or not you want to be cremated.
You can also write out your advanced directive, which makes clear your preferences for end-of-life care. This is where you can volunteer as an organ donor, and state whether or not you want to be resuscitated,
If you are concerned about health issues and the possibility of becoming incapacitated, you may want to establish a power of attorney (POA).
Your power of attorney will be able to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to make them yourself. This person can take charge of your medical, financial, or legal decisions, and sometimes all three.
This person will have major responsibilities so it’s essential to choose someone you trust.
Parker Law Offices focuses on estate planning, and we can help you figure out the best way to plan for the future.
If you are concerned about lengthy probate timelines, fees and estate taxes, a probate attorney Orange County can answer your questions and provide you with practical options.
For a free consultation to learn more about your options for estate planning, along with more details about wills and trust, contact us at Parker Law Offices today at (949) 385-3130.