Despite what your well-intentioned friends might tell you, estate planning attorneys aren’t here just for the wealthiest residents of Orange County and the Inland Empire. In fact, from Chino to Mission Viejo, Long Beach to Corona, after years of experience we come to see how nearly every person in our community can benefit from putting together an estate plan, including a will. So many that we meet think they don’t have a lot of assets to protect or maintain the false premise that their family knows and will follow their wishes. This is rarely the case. You have more than you think. To avoid contention, taxes, and unintended consequences, here are some points to ponder in determining if perhaps you really should hire an estate planning attorney after all.
Estate Plans Can Protect Privacy (and Your Family’s Dirty Little Secrets)
Do you care if the whole world knows about your debts, your family disputes, your addictions, your income stream, your children’s problems, your life? That’s what we thought. Having a trust offer many advantages, but one of those that has resonated with many of our clients is the fact that assets placed into a trust most often avoid the very public probate process. As opposed to a common will, a trust offers far more privacy regarding your estate, what you’ve left behind, and other details that you’d prefer to keep private. Do you want your children’s creditors to know they just inherited? Ex-spouses? A trust can be administered privately, largely without court or public oversight.
Working with a skilled attorney in our office, you can create a revocable trust that meets your family’s needs and guards the privacy you hold dear. It’s crucial for you to understand that these sophisticated legal tools are NOT just for the wealthy. They are for all of us who want to leave our loved ones with what we’ve taken a lifetime to build, all while avoiding the hassle and expense of probate.
A Value-Based Approach to Planning
Middle-class? So are most of us. That’s why the idea of making even a modest estate more valuable should appeal to the less-than-wealthy. With the help of a good estate planning lawyer – one familiar with real estate and the court system in Southern California – you can work toward a more relaxing future, without concern of your assets being unnecessarily depleted if something happens to you.
As with anything, you get what you pay for. We’ve seen too many clients burned by drafting online trust from inexpensive, non-lawyer vendors. With our expertise, we’ll help you and your chosen heirs determine how to deal with property taxes, capital gains, tax issues, asset protection and more. Most importantly, you’ll be able to leave an inheritance (a valuable and priceless estate) behind for your loved ones. It will be a tailored plan to fit your exact needs, all at a very reasonable price.
Protect Your Most Valuable Asset – Your Children
Let’s be blunt. You need to hire an estate planning lawyer to draw up guardianship and other important documents if you are responsible for minor children. If you become incapacitated or pass away without these incredibly important papers, the expensive, slow, indifferent court system gets carte blanch to determine what happens to your children and who gets to influence their lives. They make these decisions based on statutory guidelines, not based on the values you hold dear. Are you willing to risk the chance that the guardian chosen for your children will NOT be the person you would have chosen? We’ve been in the trenches and seen what can go awry. Let us help you draw up valid guardianship forms and to get advice on many issues that often arise when a parent unexpectedly passes away.
There Is No Time Like the Present
It’s not uncommon to procrastinate and think that illness, age, and death will wait until tomorrow. So many times, we are caught unaware. We get it. You’re hesitant to hire an attorney and want to put off making tough decisions until you absolutely have to think about it. The problem is that so many of our clients have simply waited too long…until it’s more burdensome, and sometimes until it’s just too late.
Here’s the thing. You need to be sure you are of sound mind and body when your will or trust is created. A court will not uphold your wishes if there is concern that you were unduly influenced or lacked the capacity to make the decisions in your old age or infirmity. Deathbed wishes can be very valid, but they often create an unnecessary cloud that doesn’t need to overshadow and compete with grieving. Don’t let that be an issue for your loved ones to fight about. Take care of things today, while you are healthy and of sound mind. That way your family, and a court will know that your intentions were legitimate and enforceable.
The Bottom Line
There’s no debating it. You need an estate plan. At a minimum, everyone needs a will, power of attorney, advanced healthcare directive and so on. If you own a piece of property more than $150,000, you likely need a will (even if you don’t have equity!). From professional retirement planning to naming guardians for minors to protecting your own privacy and more, if you haven’t yet started the process, now is definitely the time.
CALL US TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION AT 909-590-9545