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Understanding Estate Planning in California: Frequently Asked Questions

Estate planning is a crucial aspect of securing your assets and ensuring the well-being of your loved ones after you pass away. In this article, we will address some frequently asked questions that are often raised by our clients.

What Happens Without an Estate Plan?

One of the most common questions people have is, "What happens if I don't have an estate plan?" In California, the consequences of not having a proper estate plan can be significant. If you haven't prepared a will or trust, your assets will be frozen upon your passing. Additionally, the custody of your minor children will be placed in foster care. To resolve these matters, someone on your behalf will need to petition the court for probate.

Probate is a court-supervised process through which the court will ultimately distribute your assets and determine the guardianship of your minor children. This process can be time-consuming, expensive, and create a significant burden for your surviving family members. Furthermore, without a plan in place, your assets will be distributed according to state laws, which may not align with your desires. Keep in mind that probate is a public record, meaning that anyone can access your probate records, potentially exposing your private information to the public.

Understanding Probate

The second question we often encounter is, "What is probate, and how much does it cost?" Probate is a legal process that begins with a petition filed by a concerned party to address the distribution of your assets after your passing, as well as the guardianship of your minor children. In California, if your assets are valued at $166,000 or more, probate becomes necessary. Once a petition for probate is filed, the court appoints a personal representative to manage your assets until they are distributed. The cost of probate can be substantial and is determined by the total value of your assets. If your assets are worth more than a million dollars, probate attorney fees can exceed $30,000 and increase as the asset value rises. In addition to attorney fees, there may be other expenses associated with the probate process.

Advanced Healthcare Directives and Durable Power of Attorney

The third frequently asked question pertains to "advanced healthcare directives and durable power of attorney." An advanced healthcare directive is a legal document that authorizes someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and unable to make these decisions yourself. Without these documents in place, concerned individuals may need to petition the court to initiate a conservatorship case on your behalf. In such cases, the court appoints a conservator who will make medical and financial decisions for you while you are incapacitated. To avoid this situation, it is essential to set up an advanced healthcare directive and a durable power of attorney, authorizing someone to make these decisions for you.

Estate Planning Helps Protect Your Assets

Estate planning is a critical step to ensure that your assets are protected and your wishes are carried out after your passing. Addressing these frequently asked questions can provide you with valuable insights into the importance of estate planning in California.

If you have additional questions or need further assistance, please feel free to reach out to us. We are here to help and guide you through the estate planning process. You can also visit our website to schedule an initial consultation to assess your specific case and plan for your family's future.

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Anthoor Law Group,  
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Estate Planning

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Anthoor Law Group, A Professional Corporation a law firm, is conveniently located in Fremont, California. We are committed to providing each of our clients with the highest quality of legal representation possible.

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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