Plan For Your Future Tomorrow

Top Estate Planning FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:

What Is Estate Planning?

A:

Estate Planning is the arrangements one makes to plan for one’s incapacity and for the transfer of one’s property at the time of death.

Q:

Why Do I Need to Plan?

A:

Estate Planning allows one to decide exactly who will benefit from their estate, when, and to what extent. Estate Planning also allows one to take more control over Health Care and Financial decisions made when they are no longer able to make those decisions themselves.

Q:

What Is My “estate”?

A:

An estate consists of all property owned at death before it is distributed by will, trust, or intestacy laws. An estate may contain both real property (real estate, including houses and investment properties) and personal property (all other property, including bank accounts, securities, jewelry, and automobiles).

Q:

Why Have a Will or Trust?

A:

There is no law requiring individuals to complete a will or trust, however, a will or trust gives one the ability to control who will receive their assets and who will be in charge of the process.

Q:

What Is an Advance Healthcare Directive?

A:

An Advance Health Care Directive is a statement that details one’s wishes regarding their medical treatment in the event that they are no longer able to communicate informed consent and who you want to carry out those wishes for you.

Q:

What is a Power of Attorney?

A:

A power of attorney is a document that grants a specified individual the right to act as the grantor’s attorney in fact or agent should the grantor become incapacitated.

Q:

What is Probate?

A:

During probate, a court will determine if an instrument offered as a will is valid. If the probate court deems the will to be valid, it will then supervise the distribution of property according to the terms of the will.

Q:

Should You Avoid Probate?

A:

As a general rule, it is normally best to avoid probate. Probate can be time-consuming, expensive, contentious, and is less private than other ways to settle an estate.

Q:

How Can One Avoid Probate?

A:

A Revocable Living Trust if properly prepared and properly funded will avoid probate.

Q:

What Are Trusts and What Benefits Do They Offer?

A:

A trust is a written document that places your assets into a trust for your benefit during your lifetime and that provides for the transfer of those assets to a specified individual or individuals upon your death. Unlike with a will, legal title to the identified assets is placed in the trust. A trust does not need to go through the probate process. As a result, the administration of trust following a decedent’s death typically allows a faster and less expensive distribution of the assets contained therein than the administration of a will.

Q:

What Plans Can I Make for My Pets?

A:

It is possible to provide for your pet through trust. By having money set aside for the pet’s care, one can increase the pool of candidates one might have as potential caregivers and thereby make it less likely for the pet to end up in a shelter.

Q:

Will My Beneficiaries’ Inheritance Be Taxed?

A:

There is currently (as of March 2020) no death tax in California. Under current Federal Law, only very large estates are subject to estate tax.

Q:

What is a Conservatorship?

A:

A Conservatorship is a legally recognized status that is typically used when an individual can no longer make sound or safe decisions regarding the care of his or her person or property or has become exposed or susceptible to undue influence and fraud. A Conservatorship essentially involves removing an individual’s legal rights, so great care and attention is paid during the appointment process. One may use a Power of Attorney and/or Health Care Directive to reduce the need for a Conservatorship. One may also nominate whom they would like to serve as a Conservator if it nevertheless becomes necessary.

Q:

What is a Guardianship?

A:

A Guardian is a person who would care for a child in the event the parents were unable to do so due to incapacity or death. Like a Conservatorship, the Guardian is appointed by the Court; however, the parents may nominate whom they would like to serve and parental choice is normally given great weight.