Estate Planning

Most Estate Planning concerns relate to a Client’s Children, Assets, and Incapacity.  Most clients are concerned about the following:

• Children:  If you have minor children, a Living Trust allows you to name a guardian and alternate guardians who will take care of your children, if you die before they reach adulthood.

• A Child With Special Needs:  If you have an adult child with special needs, Estate Planning is crucial so that you can provide for your child without causing him or her to become ineligible for government benefits.

• Assets:  If you own a home, a Living Trust will protect your family from the expense and delay of Probate Court. For example, in California, when an individual dies if the decedent has assets  valued over $100,000 and does not have a living trust then the estate must be distributed through Probate Court.  This process generally takes 12 months to 24 months.  Additionally, probate court fees will be calculated and these fees equal 3% to 6% of the gross estate.  For example, if a decedent had a gross estate of $500,000, the probate fees would be $14,300 plus probate court filing fees.  However, this does not include the attorney’s fees which could range anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the attorney’s hourly rate and the complexity and value of the estate.

• Incapacity:  If you are in a coma or suffer from a disease that makes it impossible for you to make financial or health decisions, proper Estate Planning will put mechanisms in place so that these decisions can be made without causing stress and anxiety for your family.  As you may recall, Terry Shiavo brought this issue to light.  2010 is the 5th anniversary of her death. 

Terry’s case brought national attention to the issue of health care directives

• Updating Your Estate Plan:  People’s lives change often and major life events occur such as marriage and parenthood.  An individual’s Estate Plan must be periodically reviewed and modified to keep up with major life changes.