Does the thought of becoming incapacitated and unable to pay your medical bills keep you up at night? Do you worry about your children’s financial security should something happen to you? Like most people we work with daily, you’ve probably asked yourself one or more of these questions at one time or another.
Experience matters. An Anthoor Law Group estate planning lawyer is a valuable resource in helping you draft a legal strategy that will protect your assets and stand up in court. In this blog, we share some of the most common documents used in California for estate planning. However, each case is different, and you may need additional legal tools for your particular situation. Contact us at (510) 794-2887 to schedule your consultation. We are invested in getting the best results for our clients.
Under California law, a Last Will and Testament (Will), in which you direct who will receive your assets after your death, must be in writing and signed in front of two witnesses. These two witnesses also sign the Will, establishing that they truly witnessed the signing. The testator (the person writing the Will) must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. Usually, family members are the heirs, but friends, religious organizations, charities, and nonprofit organizations can also be named as beneficiaries.
If you die without a Will, the Court will administer your estate in a process called probate. Probate is time-consuming and stressful for your beneficiaries and becomes a matter of public record. It is also costly as the Court will divide your remaining assets among your surviving relatives after taking a fee from your estate for its expenses. If there are no relatives, the state of California will inherit your estate.
If you have children under 18, you can name guardians for them in your Will. This becomes especially important if both parents become deceased because a Will instructs the Court who should take custody of the children.
Although online Will forms are available, they are unlikely to be current with California law. An estate planning attorney can help you draft a Will that follows California statutes. An estate planning attorney can also advise you on what your Will should include.
An Advance Health Care Directive is more thorough than a Living Will. Among its provisions, a California Advance Health Care Directive appoints a health care power of attorney to act as your agent and make medical decisions for you should you become incapacitated.
In the same vein, a Durable Power of Attorney allows you to designate someone you trust to take legal and financial charge of your affairs should you become debilitated.
There are numerous types of trusts. In general, trusts protect your estate from probate. Think of them as a powerful supplement to a Will with more legal teeth. Depending on your situation, the Trust can be terminated, revoked, modified, or amended (revocable) as needed during your lifetime or set in stone (irrevocable) once signed.
The most well-known type of trust is a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust is a legal platform that holds your assets, such as your home, cars, real estate, banking accounts, etc. You are the trustee and manage the revocable living trust. This document states who becomes the trustee if you become mentally incompetent or die. The successor trustee can be a family member, friend, attorney, or bank.
Other trusts address a client’s specific needs. For example, a special needs trust provides for minor or adult disabled children.
Additional trust options focus on business inheritance, adult children with addictions, trusts for married couples, separate marital trusts, charitable trusts, land trusts, education trusts, and more. To set up a trust or trusts, you will need the services of an asset protection attorney.
For these reasons—plus peace of mind—you should contact an estate planning attorney to put the proper documents in order. We recommend reviewing your estate plan annually to ensure it still reflects your wishes.
Based in Fremont, California, Anthoor Law Group assists clients throughout the Bay Area with Wills, Trusts, and other estate planning instruments. Our multilingual staff is ready to assist you. Take control of your future by calling our team today at (510) 794-2887. If more convenient, you can also complete our online form to schedule your consultation. At Anthoor Law Group, we do whatever it takes.
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The information in this blog post (post) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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