BBB logo

Estate Planning

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is one of the most important steps a person with any assets can take when preparing for the future.  At Elder Law Services of California, we understand that the process can be complicated and cumbersome, which is why our offices offer a full range of Estate Planning services to help minimize estate taxes and avoid the expense and headaches of probate.

Protect Your Family Through Estate Planning

Our goal is to help families preserve their wealth for future generations through the use of Living Trusts, Wills, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Irrevocable Trusts, and other Estat Planning documents. One of the most common concerns that clients typically have is how to properly manage estate taxes. Our team at Elder Law Services of California specializes in inheritance planning and any tax-related issues that come with the topic. We pride ourselves in implementing a plan that protects your family and their assets, and depending on your needs, we may use a combination of the following estate planning tools:

Wills

A Will simple is a legal document that protects your wishes concerning any property, assets and child care for any minors in your custody. Wills come in many forms, and we will walk you through the process of choosing the right one for your family’s needs.

Living Trusts

A trust is a document created during your lifetime that gathers your property under one document and is managed by an appointed person(s) or trustees. Trusts come in a variety of options for individuals and families, including revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, special needs trusts for the benefit of any disabled person, trusts for the benefit of children, and trusts for the benefit of pets.

Power of Attorney for Assets and Financials

A power of attorney document allows you to appoint a person to control your assets, finances, and bank accounts, in the case of an emergency, such as a car accident, Alzheimer’s or dementia, or a coma, that stops you from making such decisions.

Advanced Healthcare Directives or Healthcare Power of Attorney

This document allows you to make sure your medical wishes are honored if you are not in the position to make decisions regarding your health. Similar to a power of attorney document for assets, you will appoint a person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.

Asset Protection

There are a variety of asset protection options beyond traditional wills and trusts. We can help you explore the possibility of incorporation or LLC and LLP formation for estate planning.

What Are The Benefits of a Living Trust?

One of the first steps in the estate planning process is to establish a trust which controls the disposition of your assets rather than a will. The documents are similar as both determine how your affairs, assets, and property should be handled and distributed after you pass away. However, the greatest benefit of a living trust over a will is the fact that a trust avoids the probate process, while a will does not. Letting the courts decide how your assets are distributed will turn into a lengthy process and extremely costly procedure that can take eight to twelve months in court before your family can inherit anything. With a living trust, the process ends up being significantly quicker and only takes weeks to resolve. If you own property in other states, a living trust will be especially advantageous as it can help your family avoid multiple probate situations.

Probate can be quite expensive, in addition to being lengthy, and the administration process is often estimated to cost between 3 and 10 percent of the estate’s total value. Creating a living trust will help you opt-out of the probate court system and avoid expensive (and unnecessary) court costs and legal fees. Living trusts are easy to set up, maintain, or even cancel, and are typically harder to contest in court than a will (a civil lawsuit is required).

How to Avoid Probate Court

A living trust is put into place to prevent the court system from controlling your assets or affairs in case you pass away or become physically or mentally incapacitated.  Without a trust, everything is thrown into probate, where a person will be appointed to oversee your financial and health-related affairs. With a living trust, however, once a death or incapacitation issue occurs, the other trustees can replace the main administer of the living trust without any court-administered proceedings.  Avoiding probate will save your family time, money and most importantly, reduce the stress and anxiety associated with those difficult life emergencies.

In most cases the administrator of a living trust will typically be a spouse, however, if a person is unmarried or the spouse is unable to serve in that manner, a trusted friend or other relatives can serve as a trustee. A living trust, unlike a will, which is a matter of public record, also allows your family to handle their family affairs privately and protects against the advances of disgruntled heirs or unscrupulous solicitors.  Wills simply do not offer the same level of legal protection for a person’s assets.

Start Estate Planning Today

When you are ready to provide a bit of security and peace of mind over your finances and family’s future, give our team of experienced estate planning attorneys at Elder Law Services of California a call at  (855) ELDER LAW or (855) 353-3752 for a FREE consultation today! We look forward to working with you to secure your assets for future generations.