Trusts are an important part of estate planning. They can also be one of the trickier aspects of estate planning. It doesn't have to do with setting up a trust and naming trust beneficiaries. It has everything to do with naming successor co-trustees, specifically naming more than one of your children. Your trust attorney in Orange County will give you good advice about the decision, but there are some factors you should know from the outset.

Naming Multiple Children Successor Co-Trustees

Family dynamics are interesting. Families can put up a joint front when you don't expect it and fall prey to in-fighting also when you least expect it. The point is, you might expect your children to act cohesively as co-trustees, but when it comes right down to it, your decision could drive a wedge between them.

What Will My Children Think?

This is the question that drives many people to name all their children as co-trustees.

They might think you're choosing your favorite child. They might feel hurt because you chose one over the others. They might even feel that it's unfair for one of them to make all the important decisions without consulting the others.

It seems like the only logical thing to do is to include everyone. However, it turns out that it could actually be the worst thing to do.

Why You Should Think Twice

For starters, being a trustee is a big responsibility. They have to make important decisions about the trust; decisions that require calm, logical thinking. Ask yourself if your children, working as a committee, are capable of calm, rational thought that leads to unanimous action.

Unanimous is the key word here, as your Orange County estate planning attorney will tell you.

According to the Californian Probate Code, multiple trustees must all agree on the matter at hand. There's no majority rule. There's no veto power. Everyone must be in complete agreement.

Does this sound like your family? After all, even the closest siblings will occasionally disagree.

You'll need to create contingencies for situations when there is a stalemate; for example, have a corporate trustee (from a bank or trust company) break the deadlock. Note: The corporate trustee has no right to interfere if your children are in agreement.

Additional Factors to Consider

Unanimity is just one potential obstacle. There are several more that must be overcome.

Dissent

If one of your children feels that any of the others are lax in their duties as trustees they have the option to petition the court to either resolve the problem or remove the lackadaisical sibling. This is an expensive process that is billed to the trust.

Not only is the value of the trust reduced but the relationship between your adult children could suffer.

Authorization

Without instructions otherwise, all co-trustees must sign legal documents, including those that authorize particular actions. Often, they have to sign the trust documents in the presence of others to ensure they are all of one mind. This is obviously a problem if your children are scattered across the country.

You can work around the problem by specifically stating that the signature of Trustee A will suffice. This works well in theory, but it poses the exact same problem that naming all your children joint trustees was supposed to prevent. One sibling has the power and, in this instance, can act without support from the others.

Trust Agreement

In the event that your children have reached an agreement, and you haven't designated a "head trustee" who can sign on behalf of everyone, the documents must be signed by all of the trustees. In some cases, signing can be witnessed by authorized professionals, like an attorney or certified bank employee.

Should this not be the case, all siblings will have to get together at the same time to sign the documents. This can take some time and some complex arrangements, which basically means that it can take months before any decisions are acted upon.

Joint Responsibility

If you name all your children as co-trustees, you bind them in ways you might not expect. If one child has sticky fingers and helps themselves to some of the assets or funds in the trust, they breach their fiduciary duty. Unfortunately, all of your other children are jointly liable. They could all face legal action for their sibling's crimes.

Does This Mean You Can't Name More Than One Child?

No, it doesn't. If you really want to involve all of your children - including those from a blended family—the best thing to do is talk to all of them. Talk to them privately and then, if possible, in a group. Modern technology means that you can have a group meeting via live streaming platforms, like Zoom and Google Chat. So there aren't really any excuses for not being able to attend.

The first conversation that you should have is with your head trustee. They must be willing to assume the role and all the concomitant responsibilities. If not, you need to talk to your second choice.

You also need to talk to others to explain the reasoning behind your decision. For example, Daughter C has excellent managerial and organizational skills and that's why you've chosen her as head trustee. Then explain the importance of their supporting role so they don't feel marginalized.

What Are the Alternatives?

You can use an impartial, independent trustee. Many banks have professional trustees who work in the trust department. They know all the rules and procedures and work quickly and efficiently so there aren't any unnecessary delays when certain actions or steps need to be taken.

There are also private professional trustees or fiduciaries who can manage your trust. Before you sign any contracts, however, make sure they are properly licensed and bonded by the state of California.

Get Advice from Estate Planning and Probate Attorneys

Estate planning lawyers are there to give you valuable advice about optimizing your legacy, including setting up trusts to protect your assets from probate. Your probate attorney in Orange County can help you decide what types of trusts you can create, as well as help you choose a suitable successor trustee.

Parker Law Offices has experience in estate planning with a focus on trusts. If you have any questions about starting estate planning or want to add a trust to an existing estate plan, simply contact Parker Law Offices via email, the contact form on their website, or call 949-867-4818.

If you've been appointed as a successor trustee it means that the grantor trusts you with all the important aspects of their life should they become incapacitated or when they die. It's an important role with important responsibilities.

If you're about to appoint a successor trustee, it's a good idea to discuss their exact duties with a trust attorney in Orange County, so you can choose the person most capable of meeting the requirements.

What is a Successor Trustee and What are Their Duties?

A successor trustee is responsible for administering a trust should an event, illness, or death render you incapable of administering the trust yourself. Options include adult children, close friends, financial advisors, estate planning lawyers, and trust companies. A successor trustee's duties depend on the grantor's instructions, but there are certain duties that are inherent in the role.

The first item on the list is to notify the family and financial institutions of the grantor's incapacity or death. Next, they must provide the trust beneficiaries with copies of the Declaration of Trust. 

The successor trustee distributes the property and trust assets according to the terms of the trust. For example, they might have to manage the trust for a minor child until they come of age or meet the conditions of the trust, such as completing an undergraduate degree.

The most important thing to remember when appointing a successor trustee is the complexity of the role. They must understand estate planning and trust law and make informed decisions regarding financial management. This is just one reason why appointing an Orange County estate planning attorney is highly recommended.

Why You Need an Attorney: The Complexities of Trust Administration

A successor trustee assumes a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of a trust, which means they must always act with the beneficiaries' best interests at heart. Often, this includes investment management and navigation of state and federal tax laws. Add multiple beneficiaries, including charities, and the complexity of the trust agreement is compounded.

For this reason, it's essential that you talk to whoever you want to appoint before you make the decision final. Your best friend might be honored that you place that much trust in them, but their brain runs more to art and literature, not estate taxation and the finer details of living trust management.

Obtaining an EIN for the Estate: Navigating the IRS Website

An EIN is an Employer Identification Number or federal tax ID number. It's provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as it's used for tax reporting purposes. Generally, a revocable trust doesn't need an EIN because it falls within the grantor's income taxes.

An irrevocable trust needs an EIN because it's a separate entity with its own tax identification.

It starts to get confusing when irrevocable trusts are also grantor trusts which may or may not need an EIN because they may or may not be estate tax liabilities. 

This can be a step too far for family or friends who have been appointed successor trustees. A trust attorney is far more experienced at navigating the IRS website.

Opening a Trust Bank Account: Avoiding Common Pitfalls

A trust bank account is set up to conduct any trust-related financial transactions. There are different types of trust bank accounts and in some cases, more than one account may be necessary to meet all the trust's financial obligations.

For example, a trust checking account ensures funds are available to make payments immediately. There are also trust savings accounts and brokerage accounts.

It's important to know which account or accounts a specific trust needs so that time and money aren't wasted on accounts that serve no purpose or cost more money than they're worth.

A successor trustee may not know which account will most benefit the trust. Trust attorneys know precisely what accounts are needed and how to manage them.

What You Need to Know About Providing Information to Beneficiaries

Successor trustees have to report obligations to provide beneficiaries with pertinent information regarding the trust. For example, the information contained in the trust documents, including the terms,  list of assets, trust deeds, and identity of trustees. They must also provide beneficiaries with information that will answer their questions regarding the management of the trust.

Beneficiaries are also entitled to annual reports from trustees so they can see how well the trust is performing.

There is some information that successor trustees aren't bound to provide to beneficiaries. The line between confidential and shared information is fuzzy and best walked by experienced estate planning attorneys.

Establishing Trust Bank Accounts for Subtrusts: Ensuring Proper Distribution

Subtrusts are trusts within trusts and usually only come into being after the death of the grantor. Subtrusts include Bypass Trusts, Residual Trusts, and Tax Avoidance Trusts. They have various benefits, including asset protection from creditors and asset protection for children outside the current marriage.

There are situations where the assets need to be protected from the beneficiaries, including the financially irresponsible or those with expensive addictions.

Successor trustees are tasked with funding subtrusts and placing assets in particular subtrusts such as those for individual beneficiaries.

These decisions often require specialist estate planning knowledge, including the ramifications of the different types of subtrusts. A layman might not be qualified to make the correct choices. 

Trust Accounting: Keeping Accurate Records and Meeting Fiduciary Duties

Trust accounting is the recording and maintenance of financial records, including ledgers that contain financial transactions and monthly account reconciliation. There must be a paper trail that proves every transaction was right and proper and not against the best interests of the beneficiaries.

In cases where the successor trustee isn't qualified to carry out fiduciary responsibilities, they usually have the authority to delegate responsibilities to experts, such as professional investment managers.

Fulfill Your Duties as a Successor Trustee with the Help Parker Law Offices!

Parker Law Offices is a firm that specializes in all manner of estate planning, including trust administration and the assumption of all successor trustee duties and responsibilities. We also provide the specialist services of probate attorneys in Orange County.

Contact us for more information on the duties and responsibilities of successor trustees. Complete the contact form on our website or call us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices today!

Estate planning isn't only something that takes care of your family after you die. You can set up a revocable or revocable living trust that protects your assets before your death and benefits your family afterward. A trust attorney in Orange County will give you all the advice you need to create a revocable trust that enables you to preserve your wealth.

Revocable trusts aren't just for the rich. Everyone with a family, no matter how small, can create a revocable trust. This is because there are many benefits that apply to all income levels. For example, a trust isn't part of your estate and doesn't go through the probate process. The assets in a trust are available far more quickly and avoid probate costs.

What is a Revocable Trust?

A revocable trust is relatively fluid, you can change the terms at any time during your lifetime. You don't have this option if you have an irrevocable trust. Its fluidity allows you to draw income from the trust and use the trust assets. When you die, the assets are distributed as you have stipulated in the trust terms.

You could, for example, draw money from the assets in a trust to pay your medical expenses for a hip replacement.

Avoiding Probate: How a Revocable Trust Can Save Time and Money

When you die, your estate goes through a probate proceeding that authenticates your will and approves your executor. It can take a long time, sometimes a year or more, and probate expenses can mount up. The cost is taken out of the estate, reducing the assets distributed to your beneficiaries.

Trusts are separate from your estate so they don't go through probate. Furthermore, if you put assets in a trust in another state, you avoid probate estate proceedings in that state.

For example, if you have rental properties in California and Maine, they are also exempt from probate.

Maintaining Privacy: Keep Your Affairs Out of the Public Eye

A will is a public document, which means anyone can take a look, including creditors who want to know if there are sufficient assets to pay your debt. Due to the fact that a revocable trust is separate from your estate, it remains a private document.

For example, an unscrupulous gold digger who frequently reads obituaries and looks at promising wills could latch onto your daughter who inherited your entire estate. That can't happen with a revocable trust document.

Flexibility: How a Revocable Trust Can Be Changed to Meet Your Needs

One of the greatest advantages of a revocable trust is the ability to change it when necessary. It may become necessary if you are incapacitated in some way and can no longer take care of yourself or your financial affairs.

For example, you find out that you have a degenerative spinal condition and know you will need help in the future. You can include terms in the trust that dictate your wants and needs, including who will manage your assets and the way in which you want them managed.

Protecting Your Assets: Shielding Your Estate from Creditors and Lawsuits

We said above that a revocable trust is private and can't be accessed by just anyone. This provides essential protection for your family against creditors.

It also provides protection from potential lawsuits.

For example, your son is sued by his ex-wife for child support. The assets in the trust can't be touched, so your son's financial problems won't affect your daughter's share of the trust property.

Minimizing Tax Liability: Maximizing the Value of Your Estate

Revocable trusts are taxed in an entirely different way from irrevocable trusts. In an irrevocable trust, assets belong to the trust, which means the trust creator and beneficiaries don't owe any income tax. However, in a revocable trust, you retain ownership of the assets and, as a result, you must submit income tax returns.

Furthermore, your estate's total (gross) value determines the income taxes due.  The revocable trust is yours and will be subject to estate taxes. However, a probate attorney in Orange County can help you with tax planning, which could result in estate tax savings or even no tax at all. This is achieved by maximizing estate tax exemptions.

For example, gifting the maximum amount allowed to your family. The gift is exempt from estate tax.

Planning for Incapacity: Ensuring Your Care is Handled as You Want

One of the biggest benefits of a revocable living trust is the control you maintain when you're incapacitated. The living trust specifies the way in which you want financial decisions and payments handled when you can no longer do so yourself. This is usually managed by your successor trustee.

It completely bypasses the need for a conservatorship, which is when the court appoints someone to manage your money.

However, you want to plan for more than your money matters. You can also dictate how you want your healthcare and personal affairs managed after incapacitating life events, such as a stroke.

Passing Your Estate to Your Heirs? Hire Parker Law Offices to Get the Job Done!

Parker Law Offices specializes in every aspect of estate planning from probate to wills and trusts. We're one of the premiere Orange County estate planning attorney law firms. We will help you create a basic trust plan and go on to help you set up a revocable living trust for your adult and minor children.

We also help with larger estate plans that include biological children as well as step-children who aren't automatic beneficiaries.

You can rely on our expertise, professionalism, and confidentiality when drawing up your trust agreement. Contact our team at Parker Law Offices by completing the form on our website. Alternatively, you can call 949-867-4818 to book a consultation today!

Retirement accounts are part of your estate and must be included in your estate plan to ensure it goes to your chosen beneficiaries after you've passed on. Talk to your probate attorney in Orange County about how best to divide your retirement account among your descendants.

One way to keep it in the family is to use per stirpesPer stirpes ensures that your grandchildren inherit a fair portion of the estate if their mother, which is your daughter, dies before you. In other words, the children inherit their mother's share.

Without per stirpes, your daughter's share of the inheritance is divided among your surviving children which is her siblings, increasing the amount they stand to inherit. Your grandchildren don't see a cent of your retirement account.

The Basics of Naming Beneficiaries on Retirement Accounts

You need to be sure about who you want to inherit your retirement account. This is because the named beneficiary will benefit despite what you say in your will. For example, you weren't married when you opened your retirement account and named your cousin John the beneficiary.

However, in your will, you state that you want your daughter, Betty, to inherit the account. If you forgot to update the beneficiary, or you mistakenly thought that your will superseded the designated retirement account beneficiary, John will still get the money.

Think about contingency beneficiaries. They benefit when none of your primary beneficiaries is around to inherit undistributed estate assets. For example, you bequeath your car to your niece but she passes away before you. If you named your niece's daughter as a contingent beneficiary then she gets the car.

It may sound confusing, but an Orange County estate planning attorney will help you make sense of it all.

Your Spouse is Your Default Beneficiary

Most married couples name each other as beneficiaries, which makes sense. Your spouse has plenty of choices when deciding how best to use the account. For example, they can keep the account where it is and let it grow, they can liquidate a portion or all of it, or they can roll it into their retirement account.

Note that if you live in a community property state, your spouse is entitled to claim 50% of the account, regardless of who is the designated beneficiary.

Your Spouse is Not Your Default Beneficiary

If your beneficiary is your daughter and you die while she is still a minor, she has the option to take the required minimum distribution (RMD) based on her life expectancy as determined by the Single Life Table.

Your daughter's designated guardian can help her make the choice, but it's an even better idea to consult the attorney who helped you with your estate planning.

If the beneficiary isn't part of the family, they must withdraw all the assets from the account before December 31, on the 10th anniversary year of your death. Other beneficiaries must take annual life expectancy payments until December 31, on the 10th anniversary of your death.

Your Beneficiary is a Trust

There are many advantages to naming a trust as your beneficiary, including the increased control you have over distributing your assets.

When you create trust, you must name someone trustworthy as the administrator. They manage the trust on behalf of your beneficiaries. Trusts can be tricky to set up. This is why you should engage a specialist trust attorney in Orange County.

You Named a Charity as a Beneficiary

You can name your favorite charity/ies as a beneficiary, but it's recommended that you only do so once your closest descendants are taken care of.

Can Your Estate Be a Beneficiary?

Yes, it can, but it's not recommended. Retirement accounts don't go through probate. It's one of the things that makes them so attractive. When your account becomes part of your estate, it's subject to probate, just like everything else in your entire estate.

What Does Per Stirpes Mean?

Per stirpes is a way to include your grandchildren as beneficiaries on your retirement account. The legal term demonstrates a lineal distribution process should the primary beneficiary pass away before the testator.

Specifically, it follows a line of lineal descendants; from the testator to their child to grandchild and to great-grandchild.

Per stirpes doesn't apply to spouses, siblings, or parents, it's lineal children only. Clearly State It's Per Stirpes. You must say that the distribution is per stirpes, otherwise, your assets will be distributed per capita.

For example: "I leave my daughter, Berta King, half or 50% of my estate. If Berta King predeceases me, her inheritance must be distributed to Berta King's descendants, per stirpes."

The Problem with Not Including Per Stirpes on Beneficiary Forms

If you don't state that the distribution is per stirpes, your estate is likely to be distributed per capitaPer capita or by the heads distribution of property divides assets equally between all direct descendants, with no provision for grandchildren.

Example 1: James and Charlotte

Per capita

Mom and Dad have two children, James and Charlotte. James and Charlotte each have three children. James and Charlotte are the beneficiaries of Mom's retirement account. James dies before Mom. Charlotte gets 100% of the account. 

Or ...

Mom and Dad have three children, James, Charlotte, and Angela, and the siblings have three children each. The retirement account is divided equally between the three siblings: 33.33% each. James dies before Mom. His 33.33% is returned to the estate and divided among his sisters, who now get 50% each.

Per stirpes

Mom and Dad have two children, James and Charlotte. James and Charlotte have three children each. James and Charlotte are beneficiaries of Mom's retirement account. James dies before Mom. Charlotte still gets her 50%. James' 50% is divided among his three children. Each gets ⅓ of 50%.

Example 2: Why Per Stirpes Matters for Large Families

Per stirpes works better for small families than big ones. Per capita is better for big families. It's related to the perception of fairness.

Per stirpes

Mom and Dad have three children, James, Charlotte, and Angela. James and Charlotte have two children each. Angela has five children.

Mom and Dad have a horse riding business, which they want to keep in the family. Rather than dividing 1500 shares equally between the three children, they decide to skip a generation and leave the shares to the grandchildren.

James' children split 500 shares between them, 250 each. Charlotte's children also split 500 shares between them, 250 each. Angela's children have to split 500 shares five ways. They each get 100 shares. 

In a per capita arrangement, 1500 shares would have been split evenly between nine grandchildren who get the same amount.

Other Considerations When Naming Beneficiaries on Retirement Accounts

Think about your financial dependents and how they'll cope after your death. For example, you might have an irresponsible brother who has never been independent. You might also have a daughter who has special needs and won't ever be able to support herself independently.

You can choose to leave most of your assets in trust for your daughter so she always has the care she needs, and leave only a small portion to your brother, forcing him to make his own way.

When you die, your estate faces estate tax, gift tax, income tax, and property tax. Your estate planning and probate attorney will help you distribute your assets in a way that avoids as much tax as possible.

When to Update Beneficiary Forms and Why is this Important?

Life is fluid. Your circumstances this year will be different in two years' time. For example, you downscaled your house and your granddaughter was born. Your son got divorced and married a mother of two. 

In this example, you should update your beneficiary designation forms after each major change. Even if you don't have major life changes, it's still a good idea to take a look at your beneficiary forms every two years or so.

A beneficiary might have moved to a different state or gotten married and changed their name. The changes must be made in the beneficiary forms to ensure your retirement accounts go to the right person.

Your Orange County estate planning attorney will help you with the updates because any mistakes you make will stand if you die before you get around to updating the form again. Note, named beneficiaries to trump the wishes stated in your will. If you want to make a change, you must do it on the form.



Benefits of Hiring a Trust Attorney for Per Stirpes in Orange County

Estate planning is not as simple as one thinks. Especially as you mature and accumulate the trappings of a comfortable life. One of the things you should think about is whether you want to leave your family their inheritance directly, or in trusts.

Trusts aren't always the best choice. If this is the case in your situation, your trust attorney in Orange County will advise you on asset distribution, especially per stirpes and per capita methodsThis enables you you can make an informed decision to bequeath assets in a way that matters to you.

Professional Legal Advice and Guidance

Estate planning attorneys, including those who specialize in trusts or probate, are well-versed in the finer details of wills, trusts, and guardianship decisions. They'll show you how to structure your estate to avoid probate and pay the least amount of tax.

Experience with Estate Planning Laws

Estate planning and trust attorneys know how to use the law in a way that is most beneficial to you and your beneficiaries. 

Know the Best Options for Your Situation

If you start estate planning early, and you stick with the same firm, your attorney gets to know you and provides personalized advice. Your attorney also gets to know your family, which gives them further insights into which aspects of estate planning will suit you.

Avoid Common Mistakes When Naming Beneficiaries with the Help of an Orange County Estate Planning Attorney

We all make mistakes. Sometimes the consequences are negligible, but sometimes they're significant. With an expert estate planning lawyer by your side, you can avoid the most common mistakes, including the following:

Not Being Specific About Beneficiaries

Be specific if you name your favorite cousin in your will. Use her full name and be clear about what it is that you're leaving her. Don't leave it open to interpretation. 

This is especially important where stepchildren are concerned. Stepchildren aren't natural beneficiaries, like adopted and biological children. You may love them like your own, but unless you specifically enter their full names and designate their share in assets, they could be left out entirely.

Not Naming Contingent Beneficiaries

Contingent beneficiaries are the people or entities (like a charity) that will inherit an asset should your primary beneficiary have passed away. It's important to name as many contingent beneficiaries as necessary for your estate.

Not Naming All Your Children

Don't name one of your children as the beneficiary on all your retirement accounts and policies. You may think they'll share with their siblings, but don't take it for granted. There might be an unrelated spat between the two of them, which leads to decisions made in anger, or spite. They may be regretted and amended, but it's best to avoid the situation in the first place.

Moreover, a named beneficiary isn't obliged to share assets. If there are tenuous relationships between your children, this is where they'll suffer. In some cases, this could result in contestation and even more animosity.

Not Being Specific About the Manner of Distribution

You must very clearly state if you want assets distributed per stirpes. If you aren't clear then your estate will be distributed in the default manner, which is typically per capita.

Not Choosing Responsible Beneficiaries

Almost every family has one person who recklessly spends money. Name that person the beneficiary of your retirement account and all your hard-earned money will be frittered away.

It's better to put the money in a trust for that person and then appoint a responsible trustee who will administer money or assets in a judicious manner.

Choosing a Beneficiary Who is a Minor or Has Special Needs

Getting your estate planning attorney's input here is important because it's tricky ground. You can leave your retirement accounts to a minor, but not directly. A trust is suitable in this instance.

You might not be doing your nephew with special needs a favor by naming him on the beneficiary form. Many people with special needs get government benefits, but your gift could put them in a situation where they no longer qualify for benefits. Even a marginal change can worsen their circumstances. Your estate planning lawyer will set up a trust instead.

Choosing Your Pet

There are plenty of stories of millionaires who left their entire fortune to their cats. You might think that's a good idea because you're not fond of your family or you don't have any family left, but it's not.

Instead, make provision for them in your will or a living trust. Just appoint a fellow animal lover as your pet's trustee.

Not Talking to Your Family About Your Wishes

Your family may make certain assumptions about your will. If your son assumes he's going to inherit the family business, but you want to leave it to your daughter because she's more business savvy, you need to discuss it with both of them.

Special circumstances aside, talking to your family about your estate plan is generally a good idea. There's no need to go into detail but a frank discussion will go a long way to providing your family with peace of mind.

Protect Your Legacy for Future Generations with an Experienced Trust Attorney in Orange County

It's never too early to develop an estate plan. One of our estate planning attorneys in Orange County will help you keep your plan up to date over the years and ensure that it remains clear about your wishes, especially if you want to go with per stirpes distribution to ensure your grandchildren aren't left out of your will.

To book a consultation and get your estate planning going, fill out our online form or contact us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices today!

If you're starting to think about estate planning, you've likely seen do-it-yourself guides that contain the basics of creating wills and other estate planning documents. However, hiring an Orange County estate planning attorney has several benefits that should be considered as you begin your estate planning journey.

Law firms can provide much-needed guidance through the complex world of estate and probate law. DIY kits and guides may have the basics, but they don't have adequate information for most people's needs. In fact, creating an estate plan without legal guidance can lead to unforeseen issues and unexpected costs.

Professional estate planning services will result in a smooth transfer of assets to beneficiaries without the hassle and frustration of probate court.

Why is Estate Planning Worth Every Cent?

Estate planning is all about protecting your family and planning for the future. Effective planning is essential for anyone who hopes to support their beneficiaries after their death.

An estate plan is more than just a set of legal documents. The benefits lie in what those documents will do for your family and yourself. They allow you to outline your medical decisions, assign a durable power of attorney, and more.

If you use ineffective estate planning tools, your documents could end up useless. When it comes to financial planning, you need personalized advice from someone with knowledge about the process.

An Orange County estate planning attorney can even help with complex concerns like business succession planning. Asset protection is another common concern, and attorneys have ways to keep major assets like houses and savings accounts safe.

At our law firm, we strive to build a strong attorney-client relationship with every customer, since we find this provides the best results.

Reasons Estate Planning with a Professional Can Make a Difference

Working with a licensed estate planning lawyer can make a huge difference in the quality of your estate plan. Though it may seem like a hassle to find and hire a lawyer, having a job done right will put your mind at ease and ensure your loved ones benefit from your assets as much as possible.

The low cost of using a template to create your estate plan may seem cheaper than hiring a lawyer, but working with an experienced lawyer can help you save money on estate taxes and other hidden costs for your mistakes and unknown errors. An experienced lawyer can also inform you about options you may be unaware of that will fit your estate planning needs perfectly.

Estate planning lawyers have years of legal experience to draw upon, and they can answer important questions you have about property taxes and how to avoid probate.

Objectiveness

Creating an estate plan using DIY guides and templates can be difficult for a layperson. Without a legal background, it's difficult to be objective about your needs and the best solutions to any concerns you may have.

Experienced attorneys have extensive knowledge of local law, and they have also worked with many other clients

Can I Do My Own Estate Planning?

Estate planning is a complicated task. DIY options can explain the basics to you and even provide tips and suggestions, but they cannot replace the knowledge of someone with a law degree.

Your guide won't have all the answers on trust administration for minor children or how to communicate your final wishes. Most of them cover wills and advance health care directive paperwork, but they frequently will not include all the ancillary documents that you may need.

If your current estate plan isn't vetted by a legal professional, we recommend making an appointment for legal services as soon as possible.

The Size of Your Estate

The estate planning process is easiest for small estates with no unusual circumstances involved. DIY templates and guides cater to people with few estate concerns. These templates aren't equipped to handle more complicated situations, such as large estates that may or may not be subject to estate taxes.

For high-net-worth individuals, it is worth the investment to protect your estate with an experienced attorney. Valuable estates can be quite complicated, and a free or cheap planning guide won't be sufficient for keeping your assets safe.

A trust lawyer can help you set up and manage a revocable living trust, family trust, or other tools. Using a revocable trust is a great way to keep family wealth safe and even allow you to control how it is distributed to beneficiaries.

If you have a large estate, it's important to invest in legal advice to prevent problems and legal fees later down the line.

The Legal Consequences

Before you choose to handle your estate plan on your own, it's important to consider the legal risks.

If your estate plan isn't valid, your estate may be sent to probate court instead. When that happens, a probate judge gets the final say on how your estate is distributed among your family members.

Estate laws vary from state to state, and you could end up with a DIY plan that doesn't apply in California. This is why it's so important to obtain local legal services. We have spent years serving Orange County, from Huntington Beach to Santa Ana, and our team provides regionally-specific advice and planning.

When you hire a wills and estate planning attorney near me, you'll get a clear, reliable explanation of what is included in your estate plan and how it will benefit your family.

Do It Yourself Estate Planning Cost

Though DIY estate planning has a low immediate cost, an ineffective estate plan can end up costing more in the long run.

If your estate plans are deemed invalid, your beneficiaries may have to pay for a probate attorney and other legal fees. Instead of being able to mourn and settle your affairs in peace, they will need to face a frustrating legal process and pay for probate lawyers.

Getting your estate plans done correctly in the first place will save you time, money, and energy. An estate planning lawyer will provide the advice you need and handle all of your concerns. Your attorney can help you make smart financial decisions that will benefit you and your family.

Get Your Estate Planning Done Properly with Us

Our law firm focuses on estate planning and has helped countless clients create secure plans for their futures. We're known for providing exceptional service throughout the Orange County area. Our legal team makes it easy to protect your family, and we'll walk you through the entire estate planning process.Schedule your free consultation with an Orange County estate planning attorney! We serve all of Orange County, from Buena Park to Laguna Beach, contact us at 949-867-4818 at Parker Law Offices today!

If you have a beneficiary with a substance abuse problem, you may be concerned about leaving money to them, but with the help of an Orange County estate planning attorney, you can add provisions to your estate plan to limit that beneficiary’s access to their inheritance.

Creating an estate plan gives you the chance to make important decisions about what happens to your assets after your death. It is also possible to provide a more practical provision that will protect the beneficiary from wasting their money by establishing a special trust that will fund only their necessities.

Reasons To Limit Access To Assets

If you’re aware that a beneficiary of yours has substance abuse issues, it’s in that person’s best interest for you to limit their access to funds. A sudden large distribution from a trust could quickly be spent on drugs, enabling your beneficiary's addiction and potentially allowing them to squander large amounts of money. 

Someone with substance abuse issues might not have the capacity to make wise decisions about money in other areas of life, either, and may not be equipped to handle your investments or other assets included in the trust. 

If you want to avoid this outcome, you have options other than leaving this person out of your will entirely. Instead, you can use a trust to limit their access to funds and prevent them from using their inheritance to fund their substance problems. That way, you can support your family members without letting them use your money on self-destructive behaviors. 

Using A Trust To Hold An Inheritance

When people think of estate planning, they typically think of wills before anything else. However, a trust can be very effective for passing assets on to your beneficiaries. 

For one, there are potential tax benefits, depending on the type of trust you use. Using a trust also allows for an immediate transfer of assets to your beneficiaries, which allows them to avoid probate, legal fees, and long waits. 

Trusts also give you, the grantor, the ability to set many stipulations and provisions that affect how assets are distributed to the beneficiaries. In this way, you can continue to protect your beneficiaries even after you pass away.

The use of a trust can also limit your beneficiaries’ access to their inheritances in order to protect the wealth. People facing substance abuse issues often don’t have the judgment to manage their funds wisely. 

Estate planning allows you to limit access to an inheritance until your beneficiary has a change in lifestyle, such as entering rehab or maintaining sobriety for an extended period of time. Putting an inheritance in a trust makes it easier to manage and grow your wealth while also protecting it from misuse.

Adding Provisions To Your Estate Plan

A provision in your trust can limit how assets are distributed to your beneficiaries. Provisions can require that beneficiaries complete certain tasks before they receive an inheritance, such as completing college. 

When you are dealing with someone who abuses substances, you can direct their inheritance into a special trust designed to protect them from themselves. This trust will keep the money safe and prevent your beneficiary from accessing cash and valuable assets. 

Provisions For Care And Necessities

Another approach you could take is to include a provision that will directly take care of the beneficiary’s primary needs directly. This entails giving instructions regarding their inheritance which would flow right into a special trust that will cover their care and basic needs. 

A probate attorney in Orange County can sit down with you and make sure that your trust will cover any essential bills your beneficiary needs. Instead of allowing your beneficiary to access cash and make those payments themselves, a trustee will make payments directly to third parties, such as a landlord, medical provider, or other institution.

This provision will prevent the beneficiary with substance abuse issues to squander the money or use it to harm themselves further. Some of the basic necessities that are often overlooked when one is suffering from substance abuse issues include paying basic utilities like rent, electric and water bills, as well as cell phone bills. 

Establishing trust with this provision will also make it easier for them to complete larger monthly payments such as car payments and insurance. If you are actively undergoing a rehab program or seeking mental health care, the provision will cover all medical bills and insurance for continuous care.

It’s important to note that the beneficiary does not have control of the funds meant to cover their needs and overall medical care. A person is named a trustee to pay the bills and other payments for the person’s benefit and care until they reach full recovery.

Incentives For Sobriety And Healing

You can include incentive provisions to their trust as well. This will allow distributions from the trust fund to reward sobriety or other positive behavior. Restrictive provisions can also end distributions in the event of a relapse. However, provisions need to be detailed and thorough, because it can be a challenge to determine if a person is abusing drugs or not. 

A legal professional with expertise in trusts can help you write a provision that is legally sound and gives your trustee a clear plan of action. Trust assets can then be disbursed or managed by a skilled trustee, who handles them according to the terms you specify when you set up the trust.

Appointing A Trustee

A trustee plays an important role in this type of trust. They will need to work closely with the beneficiary to track their drug use or recovery. The trustee may also need to perform special tasks, like administering drug or alcohol tests to check your beneficiary’s sobriety. 

Though it may be tempting to choose a family member to fill this role, some prefer to use an impartial third party, like a bank or a professional trustee. An experienced trustee can also potentially oversee investments and maintain assets; it all depends on your preference. 

However, when your beneficiary has a substance abuse problem, it’s important that the trustee is able to look at the situation honestly and limit the beneficiary’s access to funds when necessary.  Choosing a reliable trustee can give you peace of mind and ensure that your beneficiary is taken care of financially as much as possible.

Seek Out A Professional Estate Lawyer In Orange County

Our law offices can help you create an estate plan and add provisions that will protect your beneficiaries. We specialize in the estate planning of all kinds, and we can help you put limits on trust distributions. 
Hiring the right attorneys at Park Law Offices means ensuring people who need help with estate plans, trust administrations, probate matters, and other related matters are met with utmost professionalism and years of expertise. Contact us today to set up a consultation and learn more about estate planning services at Park Law Offices.

It’s never too early to start making plans for your estate. Choosing an Orange County estate planning attorney is the first step to creating a solid, reliable estate plan that will fulfill your wishes and obligations when you pass away.

If you have never hired an attorney before, the idea can be overwhelming. However, it’s worth the effort to find an expert to make sure that your plans will benefit your loved ones.

These guidelines can help you find the right attorney for your situation.

  1. Identify Your Needs

Before you start your search, it’s a good idea to make a list of your main estate planning needs. That will help you find an attorney who focuses in those areas. 

Common documents included in estate planning are your will, trust, guardianship declarations, powers of attorney, and more. However, if you have some specific concerns, it’s best to go into your search with those in mind.

Providing for a disabled beneficiary might require some additional planning beyond the basic estate plan process. If you have assets in multiple states, or even outside the US, it’s a good idea to look for someone who can help you handle that.

Your specific areas of concern can guide your search for a skilled and reliable attorney. 

  1. Learn the Basics of Estate Planning

To get the most out of your meetings with an attorney, consider doing some research about estate planning basics to get a better idea of your options. Information available online provides tremendous resources for learning about the law. 

Consider setting aside some time to learn what a pour-over will is, or about the different types of trusts available. You can also search for information that is relevant to your individual circumstances as well.

Learning these things ahead of time will make it easier to make important decisions when you set up your estate plan. You’ll also be able to have a more productive consultation with your attorney when you sit down with them.

  1. Find a Skilled Attorney

Estate planning can be a complex field with many legal intricacies. While many lawyers work in this field, not all make it their focus.

Someone who works in estate planning has the experience needed to prepare your documents and draft a plan that covers your main concerns. 

If you have even more specific needs, you can look for specialists within the estate planning field. If you’re concerned about avoiding probate fees, you can seek out an Orange County probate attorney.

If you have children who are still minors, you may want to find a lawyer who can help you create a trust with stipulations that will keep them financially secure until they reach adulthood. Other people may want to create a Medicare trust that will enable them to access health benefits. 

An attorney with years of experience can provide valuable insight into your unique financial situation and help you make informed decisions that will benefit your loved ones. 

  1. Schedule Consultations

Many attorneys and law firms offer free initial consultations for potential clients. Meeting with an attorney in person gives you the chance to go over your case briefly and determine whether you are a good fit for the services they provide. 

You may want to meet with multiple attorneys before committing to one. Just one meeting can help you get a sense of each attorney’s style, law experience, and even educational background. Feel free to ask important questions about each of their certifications and specializations. 

Another important part of consultations is finding someone you feel comfortable working with. While you can research an attorney ahead of time, you can’t know for sure what it’ll be like to talk to them until you meet in person. 

  1. Ask for Referrals

Recommendations and referrals can help you narrow down your list of attorneys to consider. 

Recommendations from family and friends can help you find a trustworthy attorney, while personal experiences can tell you a lot about an attorney and his or her methods. 

You can also ask for referrals from other legal professionals you trust. They may be able to direct you to the right people they have worked with and found to be dependable and effective.

The internet also hosts plenty of reviews of different law offices, and you can refer to these before choosing one to learn about the staff, parking situation, and other considerations. 

A well-respected lawyer is a valuable ally when it’s time to create an estate plan that will serve you and your family’s best interests. 

  1. Understand Their Fees

Before committing to an estate planning attorney, you should have a clear conversation about the fees they plan to charge. 

Lawyers generally have a retainer agreement that describes how they charge for their services. Different lawyers may have different fee structures, ranging from a flat fee to regular payments. There are lawyers who offer free consultations, but some may charge for the initial consultation. 

Your attorney should be transparent and communicative on all fronts, especially regarding payment. Asking about fee structures can help you screen people out and find a lawyer with a positive attitude and great communication skills, which are two very important traits.

  1. Ask About the Law Office Team

Most law offices have a whole team working to keep the business organized, usually including multiple attorneys or legal professionals. 

When you hire an attorney, it’s a good idea to make sure the entire legal team is professional and capable. Many legal assistants have the qualifications and experience necessary to keep the office running smoothly. 

Before you choose an attorney, ask how they divide legal responsibilities. Assistants and paralegals do important work, but you’ll want to make sure that your attorney will be handling the most challenging aspects of your estate planning.

Plan Your Estate with a Trusted Estate Planning Attorney

Our law office offers expert guidance from an experienced Orange County attorney. We can answer questions related to probate, estate planning, and trust administration.
To schedule a consultation and learn more about our services, you may request an appointment by visiting our website or you may contact us at Parker Law Offices today!

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.

Divide Your Assets

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.

Plan for Your Children

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. 

Provide for Your Family Members

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.

Create a Trust

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.

Describe Your Final Wishes

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.

Let Us Help You Plan for the Future

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.

Financial planning is one of the most essential factors to consider for any couple and help from an Orange County estate planning attorney can set you on the right path. Documents like a will and trust allow you to explain your wishes and make plans for the future, including after your death. 

However, it is especially important for unmarried couples to plan ahead for the future, and most laws and regulations are still written with married couples in mind. 

Probate law, for example, dictates what happens to your estate after your death. When there are no estate planning documents in place to dictate your wishes, the law will pass on your property to your nearest family members rather than your partner.

Estate Planning for Non-married Couples Lawyer

Here are some of the most important ways you can plan ahead to make sure your partner can be involved in important decisions about your life and death. 

Understanding Probate Code

During probate, the legal system assesses a person’s will, trusts, and other documents. The goal is to pay off taxes and debts and then turn the estate over to the heirs. 

Laws governing a person’s estate and end-of-life care typically prioritize family members over partners. Your closest relatives, such as your siblings, parents, or children, will inherit from you or be called upon to make decisions for you, but your partner won’t be taken into account.

That means your family members will likely end up in charge of your affairs instead of your partner unless you plan otherwise. Ambiguity around these roles can increase the likelihood of litigation.

This is why estate planning is so important for unmarried couples. The law won’t automatically place your partner in a position to make important decisions about your health or your estate. Instead, you’ll have to file documents to make sure your partner has a say in these issues.

If you want to learn more about probate code and how it applies to you, an attorney can help you understand it and plan around it.

Creating a Will

When you think of estate planning, a will is probably the first document that comes to mind. While it’s not the only part of your estate, it serves an important purpose. 

In your will, you can state who gets your estate after your death. This includes real estate, property, assets, and valuables. 

You can also name your executor, who will manage your affairs after death, including paying bills, closing accounts, and more.

A will is also important because it allows you to name a potential guardian for your minor children in the case of your death. Otherwise, the court will decide who is the best candidate for guardianship. Though they do their best to make decisions, they may not choose the same person you’d choose.

Estate Planning for Non-Married Couples Attorney

Power of attorney (POA) is a role someone can play that allows them to handle legal, financial, and even health-related decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. 

You can assign a partner to this role and grant them the ability to help if you’re unable to do things like pay bills on your own. Power of attorney can be limited in scope or it can encompass many kinds of important decisions. 

This prevents financial and legal issues that otherwise might arise while one of you is incapacitated. Your power of attorney will be able to pay your hospital bills, for example, or pay for a care home. 

Assigning a Healthcare Proxy

If either of you becomes incapacitated, the law will likely choose your closest family members to make legal decisions about your healthcare. However, you can plan ahead for this possibility. 

You can assign a healthcare proxy ahead of time, and this person will be able to make decisions about your care on your behalf. This designation can be permanent or temporary, depending on your needs.

Along with assigning a healthcare proxy, you can include an advance directive, which states your desires in certain circumstances. Examples include whether or not you wish to be resuscitated or remain on life support. 

If you want you and your partner want to have a say in each other’s healthcare decisions, then you should each have a health care directive.

Joint Ownership

If one person in your partnership owns the property where you both live, there’s no guarantee the other person will inherit it. The Probate Code rules will distribute wealth to lineal family members when determining who inherits the property. 

Joint ownership is an excellent way to make sure you both have a claim to the property. It’s important to agree to equal ownership of the house. If one person owns 70% and the other owns 30%, that won’t qualify as joint ownership.

When you own something jointly, and one owner dies, that person’s interest goes to the other person, who then becomes the sole owner. This is called the right of survivorship. 

This way, one person can continue to live there even if the other passes away, instead of the property going to probate court. 

Using a Trust

Trusts aren’t just for the very wealthy. They can be useful for a number of reasons, especially for unmarried partners. When you create a trust, you can name someone to manage your affairs.

For this purpose, a revocable trust may be a better choice than an irrevocable one. That way, you’ll be able to make changes to the trust at any time. You’ll be able to add and remove both beneficiaries and assets. You can name your partner as a trustee.

If you become incapacitated or die, your partner will be able to access the assets in the trust. Revocable trusts can function like a will, by allowing you to name beneficiaries and the terms of their inheritance.

Unmarried couples don’t have all of the same protections as married couples. Estate planning can help you fill in the gaps and ensure your property goes to your partner, along with other planning for other important issues.
An Orange County estate planning attorney has a good understanding of local law and how to address it in your personal life. For a free consultation, contact us at Parker Law Offices today.

Creating a will and estate plan takes time, but it’s one of the best things you can do to make things easier for your heirs, and legal assistance from an Orange County estate planning attorney is what you’ll need to secure your instructions.

However, estate planning isn’t a one-and-done activity for most people. Over the years, people buy and sell property, gain and lose family members, and deal with other major life changes. 

It’s possible for real property to slip through the cracks and get left out of the relevant trust documents, even when the deceased intended to include it in a trust. But what happens then? 

An estate planning lawyer in Orange County can help you file a Heggstad petition to transfer the relevant property into the trust without facing probate. Here’s how the petition works.

What Is a Heggstad Petition?

After a person dies, their estate must be distributed according to both the local law and the legal documents they have signed to plan their estate. 

It can be difficult to juggle several estate planning documents and keep them all updated. The creator of a trust may not transfer all of their property to the trust—sometimes omitting property or not remembering to transfer title to property back to the trust after a refinance.

When this happens, that property is normally destined to go to probate, where a judge will determine its fate.

A Heggstad Petition allows the beneficiaries to skip this costly, inconvenient process. Instead, it allows beneficiaries to transfer the property directly into the trust without going through a long court process. This petition is a useful option for beneficiaries who would otherwise need to deal with the delays and expenses associated with probate. 

To make use of the Heggstad petition, you must be able to prove that the decedent intended to include property in the trust. There are several reasons you may file this petition:

What Is the History of the Heggstad Petition?

The petition was named after a California Court case from 1993, which set the precedent for it.

In the case of Halvard L. Heggstad, he listed an asset on his schedule of assets but didn’t officially transfer it to his trust. When his family realized the error, they went to court and argued that the schedule of assets indicated that he meant to include it in his trust.

The court ruled in favor of the family because they were able to prove that Heggstad meant to include the property in the trust. Since then, it has become part of the California Probate Code. Now, other families can add potential assets to trusts even after the trustor has died.

When Should You File a Heggstad Petition? 

A Heggstad petition is generally more affordable than probate, and it also has the benefit of saving time. A trusted living trust attorney in Orange County can help you with this process—from start to finish.

Heggstad petitions are normally filed by a beneficiary or family member of the trust creator. If the trust is valid, and you think that the creator of the trust left out a property unintentionally, you should file a petition. 

Crucially, the Heggstad petition requires you to show that the decedent meant to include key property in the trust but accidentally left it out. Whether this was due to failing health, clerical errors, or another reason, you should be able to make a case for the intent if you plan to file a petition. 

There are several ways to show that the decedent intended to include a property in the trust. As in the original case, listing a property on a schedule of assets often counts as proof.

There are plenty of other ways to provide proof, and your Orange County trust administration attorney can help you find the best options for your case.

What Documents are Needed for a Heggstad Petition?

In order to file this petition, you’ll need to show some relevant documents to your attorney. There isn’t a strict list of requirements, but you should include as much relevant information as you can. These documents will help your attorney make a better case for your petition. 

First, you’ll need to provide some basic information about the beneficiaries and the decedent. If you move forward with filing the petition, you are required to notify all beneficiaries 30 days ahead of time.

You should have a copy of the trust, so the attorney can refer to the specific language it contains and interpret it. This affects the petition and how your attorney decides to move forward. The deed to the property or a description of it is also necessary.

Providing proof of intent is essential. The schedule of assets is an important document here because it can demonstrate the decedent’s plans to include property in the trust. If there are any other legal documents that show intent to include property, these are equally relevant. 

When Should Estate Plans Be Updated?

The best way to deal with an issue is by preventing it. If you have a will and trust as part of your estate plan, consider reviewing and updating them. A probate attorney in Orange County can help you adjust your estate plan for your ever-changing life. 

It’s best to review and update your estate plan as often as you can, to account for any marriages, divorces, or births in the family. Any major changes to property ownership or financial situation may also warrant an update to those documents.

An estate planning lawyer in Orange County would suggest that reviewing your documents every few years will help you identify any updates you need to make. Careful revision of documents will also prevent mistakes and inconsistencies between documents, so your loved ones can avoid court and legal expenses.

Estate planning is a complex endeavor, and it goes more smoothly with the help of an attorney who specializes in estate and probate law. 

To learn more about how we can help your family file a petition or resolve other estate issues, contact us at Parker Law Offices today.

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