This is one of the most sensitive and rewarding areas of my practice. If you own a home, a business, or have children, a well-crafted estate plan is a MUST and will save your loved ones thousands of dollars and months of angst. Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, transfer documents are integral parts of a smooth transition of assets. Confused about what these documents do? Read on:
A will allows you to transfer your estate to named beneficiaries, however if the value of your estate is greater than the California Small Estate Exception amount, your estate will still be subject to costly and time consuming probate without a trust. In this case, the will works hand in hand with the trust. A will also allows you to name a conservator for yourself, to name a guardian for any minor children, and to specifically disinherit people if you wish.
A revocable trust allows you to determine how your estate will be distributed and to whom. You can provide specific gifts of money or property to people and to charities or you can simply provide for a percentage distribution to named beneficiaries. This document also allows you to make certain restrictions on distribution such as age or certain life milestones. This is the most important document for estate distribution and provides tax benefits, especially for married people.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
This document allows you to make end of life decisions now; you determine the how and when of life support, pain medication and organ donation. You also name a trusted person to interact with medical professionals on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so.
Financial Durable Power of Attorney
In this document, you will name a trusted confidant who will interact with financial institutions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
These documents, specific to each situation, transfer your assets into your trust and include Quit Claim Deeds, Comprehensive Transfer Documents, and a Transfer of Business Interests.
I have helped many families create estate plans and I have helped them navigate the process of administering the estate after the death of a loved one.