Probate is known as a time-consuming legal procedure that slows down the inheritance process and can lead to large attorney fees. You may be wondering if there are alternatives that would be less expensive and have a faster timeline. A Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney can help you find alternatives to the traditional probate experience.

Whether you are creating an estate plan for yourself or handling a loved one's estate, professional legal services can help you learn more about this process and how to avoid probate court.

What is Probate?

The probate court assesses a deceased person's estate and determines how to divide the assets. Whether or not there is a will, the court can oversee the distribution of assets. On the other hand, if there is one, the probate court can declare it valid or reject it. Once they approve a will, they will appoint an executor to carry out its terms.

When someone dies without a will, they are considered intestate. In this situation, the court will use existing succession law to divide assets. The deceased's wishes are not taken into account, because there is no formal record of them.

If the family members disagree with the court about how the case was handled, they can open an estate litigation case to argue against it, lengthening the process as a result. Probate can potentially last many months, causing beneficiaries to rack up legal fees and cause significant delays in receiving inheritances.

It also ties up the property that is undergoing probate, meaning that beneficiaries will need to wait months before they can access it.

If you want to make sure your will is clear and legally valid, an Orange County wills and trusts lawyer can help. They can also assist you with related documents such as your advance directives, living will, and more.

Are there Probate Shortcuts?

California probate code includes some options that allow beneficiaries to skip or shorten the probate process in certain situations.

The surviving spouse in a marriage, for example, can often skip probate. Beneficiaries of a small estate may also be able to skip probate or avoid estate tax liability. We'll go into more detail about these options below.

However, if you are creating your estate planning documents, we recommend working with a trust attorney in Orange County. You will learn about ways to reduce your estate taxes, options for smooth transfer of assets, and

Surviving Spouse Shortcut

A surviving spouse can petition to bypass probate. When it comes to personal possessions like furniture, clothing, and similar items, no process is needed at all.

The right of survivorship applies when spouses own property jointly or through community property. It allows the survivor to take over full ownership of the property without going to court.

For property that is not owned jointly, there is the spousal property petition. There is no limit to the value of the property that can be transferred through this process.

If you want to make sure your estate plans make things easy for your spouse, it's important to see a will and trusts lawyer with in-depth knowledge of Orange County courts

Small Estate Probate

Small estates qualify for a streamlined alternative to probate that is far more convenient. These, as of April 2022, are estates that are under $184,500 in value.

However, it is possible to qualify even if your total assets are worth more than this. Your probate estate excludes many assets, such as the following:

Since you can exclude many assets from your estate this way, it's possible to qualify for small estate probate even if your actual estate surpasses the stated limit. An Orange County trust expert can help you learn more and decide if this approach works for you.


Another option is to create a trust to pass on assets seamlessly to your loved ones without going through probate. A living trust attorney can help you create a trust that suits your specific needs and those of your family.

Your trust estate is private, unlike a will, which becomes a part of the public record. Trusts also provide asset protection. When assets are transferred to a trust, the legal title will belong to the trustee. This protects your assets from personal injury cases, other lawsuits, and creditors.

It's also possible to name beneficiaries for certain assets, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. These assets will bypass probate and go directly to the beneficiaries.

How Can Estate Planning Make the Probate Process Faster?

When you work with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can identify options that will expedite the probate process or allow your heirs to bypass it completely.

Creating living trusts is a popular choice among those who have large or complex estates. Using a trust instead of a will can lower your overall estate value—potentially allowing it to qualify for a small estate probate procedure.

A revocable living trust is an excellent option for anyone who wants to maintain access to their assets. Once the owner passes away, the assets will automatically transfer to the beneficiaries according to the trust document. Every revocable trust is different, and you can add special stipulations to protect minor children, disabled heirs, and more.

An irrevocable trust cannot be changed, limiting its flexibility. However, this type of trust offers significant potential tax benefits. A trust and estate planning lawyer can draft a customized trust for you and help with trust administration as well.

Choosing the Right Trust and Estate Planning Attorney

If your goal is to skip probate and handle your estate legal matters as efficiently as possible, hire a trust attorney in Orange County. Our legal team provides professional service and can answer all of your questions about trust and estate litigation.

Set up a free consultation with a legal expert! We will discuss your options and explain what our law firm can do for you. We have been serving Orange County, CA for many years, from Buena Park to San Clemente. Contact us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices today!

When a person passes away, their assets will generally be subject to probate, a process by which the court assesses their will and other estate documents. Working with a skilled trust attorney in Orange County makes it easy to set up your estate to avoid going through this long and expensive legal procedure.

Many of our clients want to avoid having their assets be a matter of public record, and there are options for doing so. In this article, we'll explore probate, probate records, and potential privacy concerns.

What is a Probate Record?

A probate record is a public record of what happened during a probate case. Probate is a legal process that takes place in a courtroom to handle a deceased person's estate. Since it's a court process, it must be publicly documented. 

All the relevant information and documents are available in a case file. However, case files aren't always readily available. Some courthouses digitize files frequently and quickly. While others take longer or don't make their records available online. 

To access these records, one will need the last name of the decedent and their date of death. In most cities, those who wish to see or get a copy of the records need to pay a fee.

What is Included in a Probate Record?

A probate record includes the legal documents that were involved in the probate case. At a minimum, this includes the will and other estate planning documents. Sometimes it also includes testamentary letters and an estate inventory. It generally includes personal information about the deceased and beneficiaries.

The documents in probate records all become public knowledge, which is important to consider as you make plans for your estate. For some families, that could cause complications or expose them to unwanted attention. An experienced attorney will be able to alert you to these issues and help you avoid them, when possible. 

Probate Records are Public

Like many other vital documents, estate records are available to the public. Even when they include private, personal information about the deceased and their heirs, they are open to the public.

Most wills go through probate court, and when they do, they become a part of public court records. Before that point, the court considers wills private documents. 

For families who value privacy most, this can be a cause for concern. They may want to find ways around probate court. Once a court case starts, it's almost impossible to keep records privately. Working with a Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney allows you to find workarounds that avoid probate and all the costs and invasions of privacy that it may entail. 

What Information Can You Access from Probate Records?

Probate records are detailed and include the documents submitted in court. This includes the will, administrative letters, testamentary letters, and even an inventory of the estate. This information is all public to anyone who wishes to find it.

It also includes information about the deceased person, a list of beneficiaries, and more. Sometimes the records also include personal information about the beneficiaries and executor. When a will is contested or there are other legal actions associated with it, there could be even more documents available in the probate record. 

Unfortunately, it's hard to make this information private once it's part of the public record. The court only seals these records on very rare occasions, and one example is when a judge thought the records might influence a jury and affect a court case.

A better course of action is to prevent the probate process, to begin with. An estate and trust lawyer can help you find solutions to privacy concerns and more.

Define Probate Court - Navigating Through the Legal Process

Probate court is a legal process that settles the estate of a person who has passed away. In many cases, it includes dividing that person's estate, paying off their debts, and carrying out their burial and other final wishes. 

Probate can get quite complicated, especially if the deceased had a large estate or complex finances. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process and advocate on your behalf, if necessary. If a case seems likely to be long and complex, it's a good idea to find a lawyer before the case even begins.

There are a few situations where you can avoid probate. Trusts are a popular way to avoid probate and put all the details of estates in the public record. Retirement accounts, bank accounts, and life insurance policies also tend to have named beneficiaries. 

When creating your estate plan, these are things to consider. Estate and trust attorneys know all the most pressing concerns you may be facing, and they can help you address them and make things easier for your loved ones in the future. That way, they can grieve your death without the added burden of practical concerns. 

Probate Court - Your Estate Executor

The executor is specifically mentioned in the probate record. In some instances, this person's name and contact information will be a part of the record as well. The beneficiaries will also be mentioned here, possibly also with contact information. 

This is intended to make it easier for the family to get in touch if they have questions or concerns about how their loved one's will is being handled. Some executors choose to work with a law firm to support their decisions and show that they are acting in the family's best interest.

Avoid Probate Court with Parker Law Offices!

Handling your estate planning ahead of time is one of the best ways you can protect your family from hours of legal strife. Parker Law Offices provides legal help and estate administration, so you can plan ahead and make the most of your estate.Our trust attorney Orange County will offer personalized advice so you can avoid probate or keep as much personal information hidden as possible. For a free consultation, so you can learn more about our services, contact us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices today!

The probate process is known for being long and tedious. However, some people go through probate without having a lawyer help them through the process. While it is possible to handle probate yourself, a skilled Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney can make the process faster, easier, and less stressful.

Below, we'll discuss what probate is and what it's like to handle your own case in court.

What is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that determines how to distribute assets to the beneficiaries after a person dies. During a probate case, the court will review the will and ensure that it is valid. The court names an executor, and that person is responsible for dividing the assets and carrying out the terms of the will.

Wills are sometimes challenged by the beneficiaries, which adds another step to the process. Family members may challenge the court rulings, arguing that they deserve more or deserve a particular asset. If this occurs, the court will assess the situation and settle it according to local probate law.

If there is no will, the court will use local inheritance laws to determine how they should divide assets among family members. For many families, these standardized laws don't fit their realities, which can cause conflict and lead to disputes.

Many factors can affect what probate looks like and how long the process takes. The larger and more complex the estate, the longer it will take to settle the case.

Is It Possible to Avoid Probate?

It is possible to avoid probate, but generally, this needs to be done ahead of time as part of the estate planning process.

Living trusts, for example, are a popular way to ensure the smooth transfer of assets upon the trust creator's death. This means that beneficiaries can access their inheritance as quickly as possible.

Putting assets into retirement accounts and life insurance policies can also serve as a kind of asset protection that allows you to skip probate. Surviving spouses can inherit property seamlessly without months or years of deliberation in court.

Small estate procedures are designed to let some people skip costly, time-consuming probate court. In California, estates with a value under $184,500 aren't subject to probate. Instead, beneficiaries can claim assets with an affidavit, which is simpler and cheaper to obtain.

Creating an advanced estate plan is often worth it for high-net-worth individuals. Tax planning will help you minimize estate tax and other fees. In this situation, working with a skilled estate planning attorney can save you significant amounts of money.

Business succession planning and other types of estate plans will make things much easier for your friends, family members, and business partners in the event of your death. Planning for the future is one of the best gifts you can give your loved ones.

Can You Handle Probate Alone?

It is possible to handle probate without an attorney. But, the reason most people hire a lawyer from a probate law firm is that they can rely on them to handle mishaps and legal issues with a high level of expertise.

Probate law also branches out into several related practice areas, including real estate law, trust litigation, and more. Your familiarity with probate may not be of much help when these issues come into play.

Handling your probate case requires a bit of time and effort. You'll need to fill out paperwork on your own, make time to appear at hearings and more. Since you're not as familiar with the law, you'll likely make some minor or major mistakes. Because the court system moves slowly, these problems can cost you valuable time.

If your family is waiting for their inheritance to handle the deceased person's affairs, for example, setbacks can be frustrating. Finding a professional law corporation in Laguna Niguel, CA can save you plenty of time and stress.

How Does Working with a Lawyer Make Probate Easier?

Probate law is complex and varies from state to state and even between cities, making it difficult to find a one-size-fits-all guide.

Estate planning lawyers serving Laguna Niguel can assist you in planning out your will and other legal documents. Careful planning can even help with avoiding probate altogether.


If you aren't familiar with the law, it can be tough to keep track of all the lengthy, complicated forms and information needed during probate. Making small errors in your paperwork can set your case back by weeks, sending you back to square one and causing frustration.

Probate administration is a complex task that may lead to more than a few late nights. When you are already grieving a loss, you may not have the time or energy to be your own probate attorney.


Any court case can take up a lot of your time and conflict with your schedule. Between scheduling hearings, making mistakes on forms, and other mishaps, handling probate on your own can start to feel like a second job.

Even with a lawyer's help, probate can take a year or even longer, depending on the situation. Without legal guidance from a probate attorney, it could drag on for even longer.

Tax Benefits

If your goal is to save money, you may be surprised at the little-known options you have to reduce taxes and fees. Attorneys can help you take full advantage of them.

Your estate planning lawyer can alert you to options that will help you save on taxes and other fees. For example, charitable trusts can help decrease your estate tax.

Make the Probate Process Easier with Parker Law Office

A trust attorney in Orange County can help you find the perfect way to handle your assets, including asset protection trusts, special needs trusts, and more. At Parker Law Offices, we specialize in probate and estate planning law. We provide legal services throughout Orange County, from Dana Point to Newport Beach.

Schedule a free consultation today! During the consultation, you'll speak to a Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney from our law firm and learn more about your legal options. We offer customized solutions for our Orange County clients.

To get started, fill out our online form or contact us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices today!

For unmarried life partners, careful estate planning is essential. The law doesn’t offer them the same protections as it does for married couples, in terms of inheritance and end-of-life care. A Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney can help you prepare legal documents that ensure your partner is provided for in the event of your death. 

Estate planning for life partners can provide you with peace of mind and the assurance that you and your partner have your affairs in order.

Why is Estate Planning Important for Unmarried Couples?

It’s increasingly common for life partners to cohabitate and share finances without being married. For these couples, estate planning is especially important. 

Inheritance laws prioritize a person’s legal spouse and family. That means that even long-term unmarried couples won’t inherit from each other without any legal documentation specifying the inheritance. 

If the two of you cohabitate, this can present problems if a homeowner dies before the other partner. The homeowner’s beneficiaries, typically the closest living family, will have the legal right to evict the surviving partner and sell or use the house for their own purposes unless estate documents instruct otherwise.

Another concern is end-of-life care. Instead of being able to make decisions on behalf of your partner, their family will have the final say on issues like life support. However, power of attorney (POA) documents can designate you and your partner as responsible for each other’s end-of-life and other medical decisions in case of an emergency.

With the right legal documents and a meeting with a knowledgeable attorney, you can ensure that your partner has legal priority when it matters most.

How Can You Pass On Property to a Life Partner?

Estate planning provides several options for passing your assets on to a partner you aren’t married to. There are several legal documents useful to determine who will receive your assets.

Creating a will, for example, can help protect your partner and ensure they inherit items from your estate. A valid and well-written will can make your final wishes clear and distribute assets among your loved ones. 

Some people favor trusts for their privacy and the ability to add specific instructions before beneficiaries can receive their inheritances. Trusts are complex legal documents and a trust attorney Orange County can help determine if they are right for you.

You can protect your loved ones by keeping the money safely held in the trust if necessary, which is helpful if you have children, disabled loved ones, or those who need to protect their money from divorce proceedings or litigation. 

Another option is a life estate document. This is focused specifically on property ownership, making it an excellent option if homeownership is one of your main estate planning concerns. 

When you are making plans for your estate as part of an unmarried partnership, it’s important to consider all your options and choose the ones that fit your needs best.

What is a Life Estate?

A life estate document allows a property owner to assign lifetime occupancy of their property over to another person. It’s possible to use a life estate for any kind of real estate, not just homes. It’s an effective way to designate someone as your beneficiary through a will or trust.

It can ensure that a surviving partner will inherit the house after the sole owner’s death. It provides that person with a stable permanent residence but doesn’t grant them the typical rights we associate with ownership. The sole owner will still be legally and financially responsible for the home. 

A life estate is a form of ownership that allows the life estate holder to remain occupying the property until their death, while ownership of the property is held by other named beneficiaries. After the life estate holder’s death, complete ownership immediately transfers to the designated beneficiaries. 

To establish a life estate interest, you’ll need to specify in your trust that the occupant retains the use of the property until death. You will also need to name the intended future beneficiary of the property. While the life estate tenant enjoys full use of the property, the remaining beneficiary does have some say in what happens to the property.

The occupant will need approval from the remainder beneficiary before making major decisions about the property, such as selling it or taking out a mortgage. Either of those decisions would impact the remainder beneficiary, which is why their consent is needed. 

A life estate generally cannot be revoked or changed without the beneficiary’s consent. This makes it a fairly permanent decision, and one that shouldn’t be made lightly. 

How Does a Life Estate Interest Benefit Your Partner?

A life estate interest allows you to direct the inheritance process by specifying that your partner is the designated beneficiary of your property, even though the two of you aren’t married. This is a necessary part of estate planning for unmarried couples. 

Life estate has many other benefits for your partner. By including the provision in your estate plan, you prevent the need for the property to go through probate, which is a long and expensive court process to determine who will inherit from you.  It often delays the transfer of property and adds red tape to the inheritance process.

A life estate is a stable arrangement for the surviving partner, giving them the right to stay in the residence until their death.

Plan Your Life Estate and Protect Your Life Partner

A life estate is a lasting decision and has many benefits for long-term couples who don’t intend to get married. We can help you understand the ins and outs of a life estate before you commit to one.

Set up a consultation with our estate planning attorney, contact us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices today!

Estate planning isn’t just for wealthy people. Anyone who wants to plan ahead for their finances can benefit from meeting with a Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney to discuss wills, trusts, and other important documents. 

Estate planning makes life easier for your loved ones and ensures that they are taken care of after you pass away. Hiring an attorney makes the process much easier and helps you cover all your most important needs.

What is Estate Planning and How Can An Attorney Help?

Estate planning is the process of making plans for assets after your death. It can also include funeral plans, choosing a guardian for children under 18, and instructions on finding assets that might otherwise be overlooked.

After you pass away, your successor trustee and other appointed agents will use your estate plan for guidance, adhering to your wishes as closely as possible. 

An estate planning attorney who focuses in this area of law will include all the documents needed to help you solidify your wishes.

People who die without a will or other documents are considered intestate, and the probate court will determine how to distribute their property and make other important decisions on their behalf. This can result in legal fees, a delay in accessing your funds, and other inconveniences for your loved ones. 

The probate court also uses local law to determine who inherits your property, and they may not distribute things the way you want them to. If you have a partner you aren’t married to, for example, that person may not have a legal right to any of your assets.

Making an estate plan will allow your loved ones to settle your debts and other affairs more easily, reducing their stress during an already difficult time. It also makes it easier for them to follow your final wishes for funeral arrangements. It’s never too early to start planning for the future. 

1. Cater to Your Unique Needs

Everyone’s estate plan is different, so it’s important to get personalized legal advice to help you create a solid plan. Depending on your assets, your family situation, and other concerns, you can use a variety of legal documents to clearly plan out your final wishes, from funeral plans to distributing your property. 

With the help of your attorney, you can figure out the best ways to approach your various concerns, such as how to leave assets to different loved ones or how to transfer property to trusts.

If you have special concerns, like a beneficiary with a disability or a beneficiary prone to reckless spending, an experienced attorney can help you find a satisfactory solution. 

2. Help Drafting Legal Documents

When it comes to your will, trust, and power of attorney documents, it’s vital to make sure that they are legally sound. Minor slip-ups, like out-of-date paperwork or a lack of a signature, can send your estate to probate and cost significant legal fees. 

It’s hard to know where to start when drafting a will, even with the help of templates. Trying to do your own legal writing can be a minefield. In legal writing, certain words and phrases have very specific meanings that most laypeople aren’t aware of. 

Trusts can be quite complex, and you’ll need an attorney to help you draft the terms of each one you create. A trust attorney in Orange County can help you learn more about which trust fits your situation and help you create one that fits your needs perfectly. 

3. Ensure Your Estate Plan is Legally Sound

It’s vital that your estate plan is filed correctly and legally. If there are any issues or concerns, it may cause more trouble for your loved ones and delay their inheritance. 

A skilled attorney will make sure that your will can hold up in court and under the scrutiny of everyone in your life. 

All of your legal documents must be current and tailored to fit the latest estate laws. They should also be updated whenever you go through any major life changes, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, and so on. You may need to add or remove trustees or beneficiaries from your will. 

We can streamline the process of updating your plan, making it easy to fit into your busy life.

4. Advice on Protecting Your Assets

While you may have a clear idea of how you want to divide your assets, you may not have the expertise needed to figure out the best way to distribute them. Estate taxes and other legal fees can quickly eat up a chunk of your estate. It’s important to protect your estate as much as possible using trusts and other tools. 

For example, if you plan to use Medicaid to cover legal expenses, this trust will help you protect your home and other large assets from Medicaid estate recovery plans that come into play after your death. 

Medicaid may seek reimbursement for the money they spent on your care, which can cut into your estate. Proper protection will allow you to pass those assets on to your children instead.

Your attorney can advise you on challenging situations like this and suggest different options.

5. Create a Thorough Plan

Estate planning takes an investment of time and effort. It’s easy to leave out people or assets if you don’t plan carefully. 

Working with an attorney makes it easier to keep track of your assets and ensure that they will go to your beneficiaries after your death. Otherwise, it’s possible to forget about some assets, especially intangible ones like insurance policies or digital currency.

There are several ways to make sure all your assets are accounted for, including pour-over wills. 

A pour-over will work in tandem with a pre-established trust. This type of will is a catch-all that ensures many assets not included in your trust are automatically added to that trust after you pass away, such as your vehicles or boat for example. This way, you can make sure that all of your assets are included, even if they aren’t specifically mentioned in your will.

Get the Right Estate Planning Attorney for Your Needs

Our law offices provide the support you need when working on this important aspect of financial planning. Book a consultation to learn more about our services by contacting us at Parker Law Offices today! 

Writing a will allows you to make decisions about what will happen to your possessions after you pass away.  A well-written will finalized by a Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney can divide your assets among loved ones, provide instructions for your funeral, and much more. 

Your will is a document that can express all your final wishes, especially related to your belongings and finances, which means it can get complicated. Getting services from a reliable Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney can guide you through the process of writing your own will. 

Getting Started

Your will is a document that expresses your final wishes. It’s often used to divide your assets among family and friends, but you can include other information in it as well.

In your will, you can name an executor who will be responsible for ensuring that your wishes are carried out. Most people choose a close friend or trustworthy family member. 

An often-overlooked potential function of your will is to name a guardian for your children in case both parents become incapacitated. Putting this information in your will can prevent the court from assigning a guardian according to their criteria. 

You can leave specific items to specific people in your will. It’s also a place for you to write out instructions on how to pay off any of your debts, taxes, and other unfinished business.

Using a Template

If you have never written a will before, it can be tough to get started. Fortunately, there are plenty of templates you can use as a guideline.

You can find will templates in books or websites specifically dedicated to the subject. These resources are generally carefully researched and include a wealth of information.

There’s also available software that can make it easy to generate a will that covers all your main concerns. You’ll need to pay a fee, but you can use the same software to create wills for everyone in your household.

In addition to software, you can find will templates online. However, it’s easy to stumble across inaccurate information online. 

When using will templates, consider having a lawyer go over your will to make sure it communicates what you want it to.

What to Include In Your Will?

Your will should include basic information about you—so that it’s clear who the will belongs to. You’ll also need to state that it is your will and contains your final wishes. 

Your will can also include your final wishes in regards to your burial and funeral service. You can also provide practical information about a burial plot and headstone, or how to pay for them if you don’t already have them.

You can also list your beneficiaries, such as family, friends, and even charities. 

If you want to leave something to a non-spouse partner or a friend that you aren’t related to, it’s especially important to list that person in your will. State laws prioritize family members when dividing up inheritances unless you make other plans in your will. 

What Not to Mention In Your Will?

There are limits to what you should include in your will, for privacy reasons. It’s important to remember that your will is going to be available as part of the public record after the court processes it. That means you should avoid including personal or sensitive information in your will.

Instead of putting sensitive information in your will, you can put it in a memorandum. To make the memo legally binding, you can refer to it in your will. 

If you’re concerned about some of your assets being lost or overlooked, you may want to provide an itemized list of assets. You can also list the people you want to inherit specific items if you feel so inclined. This is the kind of information that can go in a memo if you are concerned about privacy. 

Some assets can’t be transferred via a will. Bank accounts, insurance policies, and other assets will often require you to specify a beneficiary with their institution instead.

When you have highly specific instructions for your assets, or if you own real estate, it may be a good idea to look into a trust instead. 

It’s hard to put stipulations on inheritances through a will, but you can go into more detail in a trust. Trusts also have unique tax advantages, depending on the type. A trust attorney Orange County can help you create one that meets your unique needs.

Putting Your Will Into Legal Effect

Since a will is a legal document, you’ll need to do a few things to make sure your will is considered legally valid. 

The first step is easy.  You will need to sign your own will to show that you approve of everything outlined within. 

After that, you’ll also need to have two witnesses sign your will. It’s not necessary to share the details of your will with the witnesses, but you do need to tell them that they are signing your will. 

Getting your will notarized is another step that is technically optional, but legal experts highly encourage it. A notary can provide a self-proving affidavit, which proves that the will is genuine and makes it easier to carry out.

Check Your Will With a Professional

Once you’ve created your will, it’s a good idea to meet with a legal professional with experience in estate planning and probate law. Even if you have already drafted a complete will, a lawyer can provide valuable input. 

If you have a complex financial situation, there may be laws or concerns that a will template can’t account for. The only way to get personalized advice concerning your finances is to work with a lawyer with experience in creating wills and estate planning. 

Additionally, laws change quickly. Your book or software may not be up to date, but a good lawyer can inform you of the latest updates to local laws. 

Parker Law Offices can help you create an estate plan that provides for your loved ones and covers all your bases. We understand how important it is to know that you are prepared for the worst. 

To schedule a consultation for creating a will and other estate planning documents, contact us at Parker Law Offices today at (949) 385-3130.

If you have substantial assets, it’s essential to have reliable estate planning on how you will protect those assets and pass them to future generations. With the right planning, you can ensure your family will be provided for for decades.

A Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney can guide you through the process of establishing personal assets and dynasty trust that will keep assets in your family for several generations. 

Here are the basics of establishing a trust that will keep essential assets in your family even after you pass away. 

What are Personal Assets and Dynasty Trust?

A dynasty trust is a long-term trust designed to pass wealth down through several generations—while avoiding the taxes that usually come up during the transfer of wealth. 

Unlike other trusts, there are no time limits on this type of trust. With careful drafting, you can pass money down within your family through several generations. As long as your assets remain in the trust, the beneficiaries will reap the benefits. Most other trusts end within 21 years of the trustor’s death.

Irrevocable Dynasty Trusts

Specifically-designed dynasty trusts must be irrevocable trusts, meaning the terms cannot be changed and that the beneficiaries do not legally own the assets contained in the trust. That limits your control over those assets and it may not be something you want during your lifetime.

However, you can add a provision to your living revocable trust to turn it into a dynasty trust upon your death. With a knowledgeable attorney, it’s possible to add many useful provisions to your estate planning documents.

Because the trust will become irrevocable and future generations will not be able to change it, it’s essential to make sure that the terms are set carefully and deliberately by your attorney. 

It’s also known as a perpetual trust because it has no end date and instead continues to exist as long as there are assets in the trust. You can create one of these trusts during your life, or have it spring into existence upon your death.

Personal assets trusts are designed to protect assets from ex-spouses, creditors, or even your beneficiaries themselves. You can place limitations on the use of trusts to prevent excessive spending and other concerns.

How Do Personal Assets and Dynasty Trust Protect Your Assets?

A dynasty trust is designed to protect your taxable estate from all the potential losses that could occur. You can avoid estate taxes in perpetuity with a carefully drafted trust. 

Trust income generated within one of these trusts can still be taxed, but there are options like tax-free municipal bonds that still allow for substantial growth over time. 

This type of trust is designed to protect your assets so future beneficiaries can access them without leaving those assets vulnerable. Without these protections, assets could be lost to creditors, judgments, and divorce.

An Orange County Trust Attorney  can help you set the terms of your trust according to your specific concerns. Every trust is different, which is why you need an experienced attorney’s input and knowledge of the legal field to help you establish one suited to your family and financial situation. 

How Can You Add Limitations to a Trust?

With personal assets held in a dynasty trust, you can decide how much control your beneficiaries will have over their share of their inheritance. As the grantor, you have a lot of control, and your descendants will have to abide by the rules you set. 

This lack of flexibility can present potential problems down the line. That’s why it’s important to meet with a lawyer who can provide insight into how any stipulations set in the trust can affect your grandchildren or even great-grandchildren.

Your Children as Trustees

You can name children as trustees of their own shares, giving them total control over their assets to use as they wish. If your children are young, or you have concerns about how they might use their shares, you can also delay giving them control over their shares.

Alternatively, you can name a third party as trustee in order to manage your assets until your children reach a certain age, or even for their entire lives. If you have concerns about reckless spending or loss of assets through a divorce, this is a good option to consider.

You can stipulate that a trustee will be able to disburse funds to the beneficiaries for specific purposes, such as education, or simply limit disbursements until the beneficiary reaches a certain age that you feel is responsible enough to handle more access to their inheritance.

A trustee can manage assets for your children, help them make smart decisions on investments, distribute benefits when necessary, and much more. It’s essential to find a reliable trustee, whether you choose a legal professional, trust company, or even a loved one to fill this role.

How Does a Dynasty Trust Protect Your Beneficiaries’ Interests?

A dynasty trust protects the interests of the beneficiaries, because when assets are secured in a trust, they’re not officially under any beneficiary’s name. While that can limit their control in some situations, it also protects them from claims and major losses. 

For one, it means that the government may not charge estate taxes on the assets imposed after a death in the family. Instead, the money will transfer to the beneficiaries tax free (up to the current Federal Estate Tax Exemption amount). Your children can also borrow funds against the trust and enjoy limited exposure of the assets to creditors.

A dynasty trust is another way to ensure that the assets stay within your family. During a divorce, it’s possible to lose unprotected assets to a former spouse. The dynasty trust has legal ownership of your assets instead of individuals having legal ownership,  protecting those assets from loss due to a lawsuit, personal debt, or divorce.

Choose the Right Estate Planning for Your Needs

Our law office has experience in the field of dynasty trusts and estate planning.

We offer free consultations to help you find the best path forward for your family and financial needs. To get started creating a trust that will protect your family’s finances for decades, contact us at Parker Law Offices today at (949) 385-3130.

Estate planning is the best way to make plans for the end of your life and your death. Though it can be an uncomfortable subject, it’s one of the most important aspects of financial planning. A Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney can help you understand the ins and outs of different documents and plans.

Careful estate planning will allow you and your partner to plan for the future and ensure that they will have a say in healthcare decisions and inheritances

Major concerns to keep in mind in Estate Planning For Unmarried Couples 

Healthcare Decision

Married couples have the right to make decisions about each other’s healthcare if one spouse is incapacitated. However, the law will usually choose family members to fill this role for an unmarried partner. 

There are ways to ensure that your partner is in charge of making healthcare decisions on your behalf and you can assign them the role of your healthcare proxy. This role is also called the durable medical power of attorney. 

Your healthcare proxy will be able to make medical decisions on your behalf while you are incapacitated. This goes into effect if you are unconscious or not in the correct mental state to make your own decisions. 

It’s important to ensure that someone you trust is able to make medical decisions for you. This may be after an accident, a health crisis, or even end-of-life care.

Power Of Attorney For Unmarried Couples

Choosing a power of attorney (POA) is a useful way to prepare for possible illnesses or incapacitation. 

Without a designated power of attorney, no one will be able to legally take care of your affairs without being appointed a conservator. The process of conservatorship takes considerable time and legal fees, and the conservator will be chosen by a judge instead of you.

General POA gives another person control over your affairs if you aren’t able to handle them yourself. This includes medical, financial, and legal matters. 

For example, this person will be able to handle your financial matters, pay your bills, and complete other taxes.

This designation will make sure your partner is able to handle as many of your affairs as possible. This will make it easier to keep up your life together while you are sick, or to prepare for end-of-life care.

Joint Property Ownership

Married couples get the benefit of certain rights, including the right to inheritance in most situations. However, you’ll need to make intentional plans to ensure your partner will inherit your property if you aren’t married.

When it comes to homeownership, sharing the property jointly provides security to both partners. You must share ownership equally to be considered joint tenants. 

If you are joint tenants, that means you have equal shares in the house. In this situation, if one of you dies, the other owner will take over the deceased person’s share and become the full owner. This is called the right of survivorship, and it allows you to skip probate court.

Even if you choose to have one partner listed as the sole owner, you may be able to meet with a lawyer and create a contract that describes you as a joint owner. A knowledgeable estate attorney can provide advice on the subject.

Writing A Wil

Writing a will is an essential step in any estate plan. While your bank accounts, trusts, and other assets may have designated beneficiaries, a will still serves an important purpose. 

When a person dies without a will, that person is considered intestate, and the law will determine what happens to their estate. Most laws are written with married couples in mind, and an unmarried partnership doesn’t typically hold the same weight in the eyes of the law. 

It allows you to write out instructions for your last wishes, including how you wish to be buried, and distribute your assets to the people you want to inherit them. For example, you can list a vehicle, a painting, and other valuables. 

You’ll also be able to name a guardian for any minor children. That prevents the courts from making that decision for you. As good as their intentions may be, they often don’t have the full picture of family dynamics, and the process of finding a guardian can be stressful for a child.

Another benefit of having a will is the ability to choose an executor, who will complete tasks like paying off your final bills and closing your bank accounts. 

Creating a Trust

Creating a trust is an excellent way to plan for the future. It allows you to designate beneficiaries and set terms for their inheritances as well. 

For unmarried couples, a trust will help you share access to your finances. Instead of dealing with complicated legal issues, you can have a trust with clear-cut instructions that allow your partner to handle money on your behalf in certain situations. 

You’ll also be able to avoid probate court for all assets held in the trust. Instead, they’ll transfer to your beneficiaries, such as your partner, without delay. 

Most people use a revocable trust for this purpose because you can make changes to it at any time. It’s possible to transfer assets in and out, and change the beneficiaries over time. You’ll also be able to access your assets at any time, unlike the assets held in an irrevocable trust.

Work with an Experienced Laguna Niguel Estate Planning Attorney

To create a trust that suits your needs and follows local regulations, you’ll need a trust attorney. Orange County courts use precise legal language and an experienced attorney can handle the task for you. 

Making plans for your estate now will reduce stress for you and your partner in the event of an illness or death. Unmarried couples may need to do some extra paperwork, but a competent trust attorney can help you navigate the law and make the best choices for your situation

Careful planning will ensure you and your partner have the legal protections you need. To make an appointment for a consultation, contact us at Parker Law Offices today.

Estate planning gives you the opportunity to direct exactly how you want to distribute your assets after your death, with the help of documents like a trust, and assistance from a reliable Laguna Niguel estate planning attorney.

Trusts allow you to efficiently pass on assets to your heirs, avoiding time spent in court and often saving taxes. Once you have a trust set up, however, you may need to review it and make changes to it over time. As your life changes, so should your trust. 

What does reviewing a trust entail, and how can you change it? In this article, we’ll go into some of the reasons you may want to change a trust, and how to do so with the help of a trust attorney Orange County location.

What are Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts? 

There are many kinds of trusts used for the purpose of estate planning. They all have different advantages and disadvantages.

When it comes to revising your trust, there are two main categories to keep in mind such as revocable and irrevocable trusts. 

An irrevocable trust cannot be changed, and the terms are set from the time it is signed. These trusts have some tax advantages, which is why some people choose them even though they must stay the same forever. 

Revocable trusts, however, can be changed whenever the owner desires to do so. There are many good reasons to change the terms of a trust, such as adding or removing beneficiaries, changing the assets contained in it, and even adding conditions to how it should be used.

Why Is It Important to Review Trusts?

Trusts are one of the most important tools in your estate plan. They allow you to control what happens to your assets after your death, and they can distribute those assets among beneficiaries, with or without stipulations attached.

However, your feelings or your life situation can change over time. As a result of that, you may change your mind about who you want to include as a beneficiary, or what you want to leave to them. You may even want to add a property to the trust or take it out.

Your trust contains instructions on how to distribute your property. For example, you may want to add new stipulations to your trust after learning about a relative’s spending habits, substance abuse, or criminal matters. You may want to remove stipulations if the reason for having them no longer applies. 

Reviewing a trust is basic maintenance for this essential legal document. If you don’t review it, you may not realize that it doesn’t reflect your current wishes. For a trust to serve its purpose, you should review it often and alter it as needed.

When Should You Review Your Trust?

If you have a trust, it’s good practice to look over the document occasionally. There are plenty of reasons you may want to review the trust and see if you have cause to alter its terms.

If you want to make sure your trust is always as relevant as possible, you may want to keep a schedule that lists your assets. An experienced trust attorney in Orange County may suggest doing so every three to five years—to stay on top of the many changes in your life.

You may not notice how much your life changes in just a few years, so this is one way to keep your trust relevant. 

If there is a sudden and dramatic change to your life, though, you don’t need to wait to review or change the trust. If you gain new family members, lose family members, or have a changed financial situation, take a look as soon as possible. The sooner you identify potential changes, the better. 

Here are some of the most common reasons you may want to review a trust:

Any of these changes would give you good reason to look over the current text of your trust and make necessary adjustments.

The more accurate your trust is to your current life, the less likely  your beneficiaries will spend time in Probate Court. 

How Do You Change Your Trust? 

If you have a revocable trust, you can change or even revoke it at any time. In the process, you’ll have to either edit the legal document or else remove it completely and create a brand new trust.

To change a trust, you’ll need help from your Laguna Hills trust attorney to create an amendment or a new document that restates the trust content including the changes. Whichever one you choose, you’ll need to update the text of the original trust. An attorney can help you settle on clear, precise language. 

Once you’ve completed the new text for your trust, you can notarize it and keep it safely stored with your other estate planning documents.

How Do You Revoke a Trust?

Revoking a trust means that the legal document and it’s disposition will cease to exist entirely. If you revoke a trust, it won’t have any influence over how your assets are handled after you die. 

Why would someone revoke a trust? If you find yourself needing to make tons of changes to a trust, it may be easier to start out with a completely new trust.

For example, someone who has made some major life changes would need to create an entirely new document. Another person may want to choose a new trustee to manage the trust. 

To revoke a trust, you must take all of your assets out of it. In practice, this means changing the ownership of deeds and other paperwork back to your own name. This process may take some time. 

After you have finished moving your assets out of that trust, you’ll need a document declaring that you revoke the trust. An attorney can help you write a document that is thorough, clear, and in accordance with local laws.

Once you have the trust revocation document, you must sign and notarize it, and in some cases, file it in court. At this point, you can create and file your brand new trust.

Estate planning is an important task that allows you to distribute the money among family, friends, and even charities. A legal professional like a Laguna Hills estate planning attorney will take care of the legal aspects and ensure your wishes are carried out the way you planned.

Schedule a free initial appointment with us, contact our team at Parker Law Offices today.

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