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If you're just getting started with estate planning, you may be wondering if you really need an estate planning attorney. Many estate planning kits are available online at very low prices. These options can make creating an estate plan seem like a fast, simple process, but paying less upfront could cost more in the long run.

If you're tempted to handle your estate planning yourself, there are a few pitfalls you should be aware of. However, most people need estate plans that are uniquely tailored to their lives and financial circumstances.

Without help from legal professionals, you may still have to undergo the probate process, which means that distributing your assets can involve a lengthy process. Here are some things to keep in mind as you make plans for your estate.

Let’s Take a Look at Estate Planning and Get a Better Understanding

Estate planning determines what happens to your estate after you pass away. Your estate includes all of your assets, from bank accounts to real estate to personal property like art and jewelry.

The estate planning process involves documents like trusts and power of attorney (POA) documents that determine how your estate is handled after your death. Trusts, for example, allow for the immediate, seamless transfer of assets without having to go to probate court.

In most cases, an estate plan will include instructions on how to settle your affairs and transfer assets to your beneficiaries. Ideally, you will find ways to transfer them that benefit your heirs by reducing taxes and legal fees. A poorly-drafted plan makes inconveniences for your loved ones

Pitfalls of DIY Estate Planning

DIY estate planning can be convenient and available at a low price. The plans available include some basic information about how to create a will or other documents. However, DIY guides lack the detail and specificity needed to adequately protect you and meet your needs.

DIY Online Templates May Not Conform to State Law

One of the main problems with online templates is how generic they are. If you are relying on a template to create a will, be aware that it may not fit the laws in your state. Laws around estates vary on a state level, so using the wrong template could render your will or other estate documents invalid.

Estate planning templates may seem convenient, but in practice, they often require many changes from lawyers to fulfill their purpose.

Resources Available Online Are Not Detailed

One of the main benefits of an estate plan is the ability to customize it to make sure that all of your unique needs are met. When you create one using templates and guides, there is very limited information available to you. This makes it more difficult to create a plan that truly benefits and protects your estate.

A law firm that specializes in estate administration can provide solutions to any questions you may have, such as how to distribute assets to a disabled beneficiary or how to protect assets. A one-size-fits-all guide won't have the information you need to address these concerns.

Lacks Accountability

Planning an estate takes a lot of effort and attention to detail. When you handle it yourself, you'll need to double-check your own work and make sure that everything is done correctly. There's a lack of accountability to anyone other than yourself, which means that mistakes can easily slip through the cracks.

However, when you work with a good estate planning attorney, you can hold him accountable for your estate plan. By hiring a professional, you'll be treating estate planning with the importance it deserves. You'll also get assurance that your assets are protected as much as possible.

Estate planning attorneys have years of experience and insight into the law, and they will help you cover all your bases and provide any changes as needed.

DIY Estate Plans Are Not Comprehensive

Most DIY plans only cover the very basics of estate planning. The information they provide may only be applicable to basic estate planning matters, like wills. Depending on your circumstances and how you want to transfer assets, that may not be sufficient for your legal needs.

A lawyer can help you cover all your bases and meet certain criteria that may be important for your lifestyle. Expertise in elder law, for example, can help you ensure that you are cared for as you age.

On the other hand, the power of attorney is a document that allows you to designate someone to handle your legal, medical, and financial affairs if you become incapacitated. You can also make provisions to your plan to pay for long-term care.

An advance directive is another important document that outlines your preferences for end-of-life care, including whether you want to donate organs, whether you want to be resuscitated, and more.

DIY Estate Planning Does Not Work for a Complex Family Situation

DIY estate planning information is available in books and online. However, the complexity of estate law can't be summarized in just a few pages.

If you have a complex family situation or a unique financial situation, these low-cost kits may not provide all the information you need. For example, if you have minor children that you want to protect, there may be a family law aspect to your planning needs.

Many attorneys can also help you figure out how to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries as smoothly as possible by using trusts. They can also suggest asset protection techniques that can reduce taxes or keep assets safe for beneficiaries with irresponsible spending habits.

Everyone's family and financial circumstances are different, and templates aren't up to the task of customizing your plan. Working with a legal and financial advisor is the best and fastest way to address your specific needs.

Why Do You Need to Hire an Estate Planning Attorney?

Hiring an estate planning attorney is a worthy investment for anyone who wants to handle their assets wisely. Professional legal or tax advice can save your beneficiaries significant time and money.

Handling the planning process on your own can lead to serious issues that can cost your loved one's time and energy. To get a solid, reliable plan in place, you can get in touch with an estate planning attorney near me.

Never Leave Your Estate Planning to Chance

Estate planning is one of the most important forms of financial planning. It enables you to put your final wishes into writing and make sure that they are carried out after your death. If you are going to go to the trouble of creating an estate plan, make sure that it serves its intended purpose of protecting your loved ones.We specialize in helping clients avoid probate court and keep their estates intact. To schedule a free consultation with our licensed estate planning attorney and learn more about our services, contact us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices today!

Accessing a deceased loved one’s cell phone and online accounts can present a serious problem if you aren’t prepared. If you don't have a legal plan, you will have to deal with many different companies to gain access to someone's digital accounts. A Laguna Niguel, estate planning attorney can help you assign a digital power of attorney so that your loved ones can get fast, easy access to your digital assets when necessary.

Most of us have heard stories of family members who can’t unlock a loved one’s phone, email account, or another important digital asset with invaluable information like photos and texts with the last people they reached out to. These situations can make it difficult for a deceased person's estate to be settled financially and socially. 

Our legal team at Parker Law Offices can help you navigate the issues surrounding digital inheritances. 

What Is Power Of Attorney?

Power of attorney is a legal document that gives one person the legal right to act on behalf of another person. The person who has the power to act is often called the agent. Power of attorney is most often used when a person is incapacitated, and it can allow the agent to make medical, financial, or legal decisions on their behalf. 

It’s also possible to use power of attorney to give someone the legal right to access your digital assets. In a private memo, you can disclose all your essential account information, like passwords and usernames for different accounts. 

Types Of Power Of Attorney

There are many different types of power of attorney for different situations, including finances and healthcare.

Executing The Power Of Attorney

Power of attorney is designed to allow a trusted person to manage a disabled or incapacitated person’s affairs. That means that even if you fall ill or get into an accident, the agent can manage your finances and maintain important payments on your behalf. 

When it comes to digital assets, you can ask the agent to post to social media accounts, answer emails, or handle online payments. You may even want to cancel payments for things like streaming services that you won’t be using. 

An attorney can help you draft an agreement that fits your particular needs. When it comes to a digital power of attorney, you can name the specific assets you want your agent to access, and prevent them from managing other assets.

What Are Digital Assets?

Digital assets include all kinds of digital property. Most people store quite a bit of important information online and use online accounts for important tasks like paying bills, not to mention socializing. 

Digital assets include items with monetary value, like cryptocurrency, website domains, and financial accounts. However, social media accounts, websites, and even media files are also included. That includes personal photos and videos, along with digital correspondence. 

While a Pinterest board or streaming account may not be a priority, other accounts could prove important to your family and friends.

Not only do digital assets have important practical effects on your life, but they may also hold sentimental value for your loved ones. By accessing your phone or cloud drives, they’ll be able to find old favorite pictures and important correspondence. Many people store photos digitally instead of physically these days, and losing the files could mean losing them altogether.

Using A Trust To Manage Digital Assets

If you hope to share your digital assets with people after you pass away, one option is to add them as beneficiaries of a trust. If you’re searching for the right trust attorney, Orange County is where our legal team can set up a trust according to your specifications. Our attorneys will make it easy for your beneficiaries to gain access to the digital assets you want to share with them. 

By choosing this option, you are able to control what your beneficiaries can access and when they can access it. An attorney can add a provision to your documents granting digital power of attorney, which allows the surviving trustees access to password-protected accounts and electronic devices. 

The provision can include the following:

What Are The Benefits Of Digital Power Of Attorney?

After a loved one passes away, you often have to deal with the stress of settling their affairs on top of grieving. One of the benefits of estate planning is that you can reduce the stress your family faces and make things easy for them as they process your death. 

With the switch to digital payments, correspondence methods, and even types of currency, it can be more challenging than ever to pay off bills and close accounts. Many internet companies still prioritize customer privacy over everything else, making it tough to convince them to allow you into a deceased person’s account. 

Laws regarding privacy and digital inheritance are still developing, but you can avoid some hassle by simply using a trust or other estate planning methods to give access to your beneficiaries. 

By planning for your most important digital assets, you can save your loved ones many headaches and hours spent dealing with red tape. This way, they’ll be able to inherit your assets and thus get into your accounts with ease. 

Including digital assets in your estate planning makes it easier for your beneficiaries to keep track of them and prevents the loss of things such as Paypal account funds or crypto wallets that could otherwise be overlooked. 

Reach Out To Parker Law Offices

Our legal team can add a provision to your trust specifically designed to give your beneficiaries the legal right to access your accounts. We can also help you determine which service providers, such as social media websites or banks, have their systems for declaring beneficiaries. 
Contact Parker Law Offices today to schedule a consultation and learn more about dealing with digital assets!

When you’re meeting with your Orange County estate planning attorney, you’re definitely going to discuss creating or updating your will. While most people imagine a will to simply be a document that describes who takes ownership of certain assets, property, or cash, a will is so much more. In fact, there are actually multiple kinds of wills that have different uses and purposes. 

Your estate planning lawyer in Orange County will not only help you understand which wills are right for you, but can also make sure they are created and executed according to California state law.  Here’s what you need to know about the four main types of wills and their uses:

What Exactly is a Will?

Broadly put, a will is a legal document that outlines your wishes about the distribution of your property and the care of your minor children when you die. If you pass on without a will, those wishes may not be followed. Things can get messy as the distribution of your estate will be determined by a judge in probate court. Your friends and family may have to spend time and money working with an Orange County probate attorney to settle your affairs.

One of the key benefits of hiring an Orange County estate planning lawyer is that you can continue your life with peace of mind. When you pass, your loved ones won’t be burdened with the stress of trying to figure out the probate system.

Multiple Kinds of Will

Wills vary in how they work and how effective they are depending on their type and your unique needs. Your Orange County living trust lawyer can help you understand which ones are right for your situation. There are four main categories of wills: 

Simple Wills

A simple will is a relatively straight-forward document that doesn’t contain any tricky clauses or stipulations. Don’t let the name fool you, though. These wills can accomplish a great deal. You get full control over which of your assets go to different people. You can distribute everything to a single person, spread it out over multiple entities - even give some or all of it to charity!

In a simple will, you can also designate someone to be the executor of your estate. This person is tasked with making sure that your wishes set forth in the will are properly carried out. They can even make decisions that aren’t explicitly covered in your will, so you’ll want to name someone you trust. In some cases, you may decide to hire an Orange County probate attorney to advise your executor or even perform that position for you.

Testamentary Trust

A testamentary trust is a trust that is written inside of a will. Some people call it a will trust or trust under will. The idea is that parts or all of your estate become part of a trust. Unlike other trusts, this trust is not created until you die. You can even create multiple testamentary trusts within a single will.

A trust is essentially a way you can provide for a minor or disabled relative or delay someone from getting their inheritance until a certain point of time. For example, you might want assets to be held in the trust until the person graduates from college or turns a certain age.

Since the testamentary trust is inside of a will, it still goes through probate after your death. In fact, the people named take control of their inheritance, the person who is tasked with carrying out the trust must go to court to show they are properly handling your estate. There are usually, of course, significant associated costs with probate that can reduce the overall amount of the inheritance.

If you’re interested in creating a trust outside of your will, there are a number of options. Most of these trusts avoid probate or have other benefits. Check with your Orange County probate attorney to learn more.

Joint Will

If multiple people create a will to leave their assets to each other, it’s called a joint will. These are common among husbands and wives and acts as an agreement that if something happens to one spouse, the other inherits the whole estate. When the surviving spouse dies, the remainder of the estate goes to a third person or multiple people named by the couple together.

Unlike a mutual will, a joint will is a single document signed by both parties. A mutual will is made up of multiple wills that are signed by all parties. Joint wills were a little more prevalent in previous years because they were cheaper to create and execute. In modern times, they are a bit more complicated. A surviving spouse is unable to change the will after their spouse dies. 

That means the surviving spouse couldn’t leave anything in that will to a new spouse, step-child, or child from a new relationship. Mutual wills have similar drawbacks and can leave your family and friends in a sticky mess--and if the beneficiary named by the couple dies prematurely, the entire estate would be subject to probate.

Some people prefer to use what is called a mirror will. This kind of will acts as a joint will, but with some changes; multiple wills are created that are almost identical. These wills have different names as the person making the will, known as the testators. It’s common for both spouses to leave everything to the other person, but there is room for other decisions. A surviving spouse can then alter their will any way they see fit.

Living Wills

A living will is different from other wills as it is not actually a last will and testament dealing with your estate. A living will is meant to explain your wishes for end-of-life medical care. If you are in a situation where you can’t speak for yourself, this document controls how your care can proceed. You can decide if and how you can be resuscitated or what kind of assistance you’ll accept. Because living wills can get complicated, meet with your Orange County living will attorney to make sure it’s completed correctly.

You might also decide to create a medical power of attorney that names another person as your medical proxy. This proxy can make decisions on your behalf and deal with situations your living will doesn’t predict. Your Orange County living will lawyer can also help you put this in motion as well.

The Right Will for Your Needs

Knowing which kind of will is best for you is no easy decision. There are a variety of factors that make one better than another or make more sense for your situation. Fortunately, you are not on your own in planning for your future. An Orange County estate planning attorney can help you determine your best course of action. Moreover, your estate planning lawyer can help with the overarching needs of your estate beyond the will.Call or message us for your free consultation today and see how an estate planning attorney can help you.

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Wills & Trusts, Estate & Trust Administration, Probate, and Health Care Power of Attorney
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