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.

Trusts are designed to hold your assets, making them more convenient to transfer to beneficiaries and giving you certain tax advantages. There are different types of trust funds, but asset protection trusts, in particular, allow you to keep your assets safe from concerns like taxes and litigation.

For some individuals, an asset protection trust is an important factor in financial planning. Here are the details of how you could benefit from creating a trust to hold important assets. 

What is an Asset Protection Trust and Who Should Get One?

An estate planning package  includes wills, trusts, and other important documents used to determine what will happen to your assets after your death. However,  asset protection trusts can also have an impact on your finances while you’re still alive.

An asset protection trust is specifically designed to keep your assets safe from people who could quickly wipe out large amounts of savings, property ownership, and more. 

Creditors seeking payment for debts, for example, can demand that you pay them with funds set aside for retirement or other crucial purposes. Lawsuits from litigious people in your life can also cost a lot in terms of legal fees, not to mention judgments against you. 

Not everyone needs an asset protection trust, but certain people can benefit immensely from the security provided by a well-drafted trust. 

How Can a Trust Keep Your Assets Safe from Creditors?

An asset protection trust is a secure way to keep your assets safe in an irrevocable trust. This means that you transfer legal ownership of your assets to the legal entity of your trust.

That way, you don’t have legal control over the assets, and you also don’t have the power to change the terms of your trust. However, you can designate yourself as a beneficiary. 

It’s possible to draft a trust that gives you access to vital assets like personal property or your residence, but overall, the goal is to ensure that your trustee is actually legally responsible for the control and management of all assets in the trust.

Transferring Legal Ownership

When you transfer legal ownership to the entity that is your trust, it’s virtually impossible for creditors or courts to demand you to use those assets as payments.

Asset protection is a vital consideration for some people. It’s crucial to get an asset protection trust if you are in a high-risk profession in industries like medicine, real estate, or other professional businesses. 

If you expect to be sued or face large debts, it is likely worth the effort to establish a trust that will protect your wealth.

The process of establishing this type of trust is complex, but transferring the assets is equally important. You’ll need to go through the process of transferring legal ownership of those assets to your new trust, which generally requires a lot of work from your attorney, financial planner, and other professionals. 

What Type of Asset Protection Trust do You Need?

Asset protection trusts include several different types of trust funds that serve a variety of needs. The details of your trust will vary according to your specific needs. 

For example, some people specifically create trusts to keep their assets safe in case they face lawsuits. For business owners and people with public-facing jobs, this can be concerning and therefore, would require financial planning.

Others may wish to use a trust to protect their assets because of medical concerns. If you don’t protect your assets, medical procedures can quickly use up large sums of money or property. 

Irrevocable Beneficiary Inheritance trusts

These trusts can be integrated into your existing estate plan, whether you have an irrevocable or revocable trust. After your death, the asset protection trust is effective to protect the trust assets for your beneficiaries.

If one of your children has considerable debts, then the trust will prevent debtors from collecting the money from their inheritance. Similarly, if one of your children is getting a divorce, the asset protection trust will prevent an ex-spouse from walking away with a chunk of the inheritance. 

Special Needs Asset Protection Trusts

Special needs asset protection trusts are designed for individuals who rely upon disability and other government benefits. If you have a child or other beneficiary who relies upon Medi-Cal, for example, an inheritance can disqualify them from the medical insurance they depend upon. 

Without these protections, medical costs could eat up an inheritance quickly. A beneficiary can use a trust like this to get access to high-quality medical care, including in-home assistance.

A trust catered to those with special needs will allow for the disbursement of funds on a regular schedule. That way, a disabled individual can cover general costs of living or supplement their income with an inheritance. 

Medi-Cal Planning Trusts

Medi-Cal can help you cover the costs of healthcare and quality for financial assistance from the state. A  trust can hold important assets such as your home or retirement account. 

However, without protection from a trust, Medi-Cal can seek repayment for the costs of your medical care through the estate repayment program. This program seeks to use your estate to cover the costs of nursing home care, hospital stays, and more. 

Medi-Cal can make a claim to recoup that money, using assets such as your home and other property to repay it. A trust allows you to use Medi-Cal and still be able to pass your house on to family members.

Work with a Probate Attorney to Help You Protect Your Assets

If you find yourself to be a beneficiary of a family member’s wealth which has to go through the probate process, A probate attorney Orange County can help you navigate through the probate, and afterwards find the ideal way to protect your newly inherited assets through careful estate planning.

Set up a free consultation to help you learn more about how a trust can help you achieve your financial goals by planning and protecting your assets.

Contact us at Parker Law Offices today at (949) 385-3130.

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