Most people think of estate planning merely in terms of preparing a will or a family trust. However, it consists of much more.
Estate planning is a method of planning for the creation, conservation, use, growth and distribution of your assets, both during your life and at your death.
Our approach to estate planning is to focus not only on what happens when you die, but to protect you and your family while you are living.
Whether you have executed a will, trust or some other document for distribution of your assets at death, it is important to remember that EVERYBODY HAS AN ESTATE PLAN. If you have not created your own estate plan, the State of California has created one for you. It is called intestacy, and it determines who will receive your property upon your death, without regard to your wishes or tax planning. This set of laws is completely arbitrary in the way it distributes your property. Therefore, the real question is not whether you have an estate plan, but whether you are satisfied with the one you have.
- Naming someone to make medical decisions for you if there comes a time when you cannot make them for yourself [Health Care Documents]
- Selecting who will take care of your real estate, money and other assets if you become disabled or otherwise unable to manage the assets [Powers of Attorney]
- Protecting your assets from creditors
- Putting money into retirement accounts
- Preparing buy-sell agreements for businesses and assets you own with others
- Planning for disability
- Planning for long-term care, if you have long-term medical needs
- Purchasing Umbrella insurance.
- Minimizing estate taxes
- Avoiding probate
- Selecting the beneficiaries of your estate
- Deciding whether the beneficiaries receive their inheritances outright or in trust
- Selecting who will be the trustees
- Protecting your beneficiaries’ inheritance from their creditors, spouses and future estate taxes
- Choosing guardians to raise your minor children.