At Tisser Law Group, APC, 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.
What is Estate Planning?
Most people think of estate planning merely in terms of preparing a will or 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.
To start on your personalized estate planning, contact our firm and schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our experienced Encino estate planning attorney.
Planning for Today & the Future
Most people understand the purpose of a will or a living trust, and they realize the importance of planning for death. A properly prepared estate plan, however, takes into account a number of circumstances that can occur during your life.
Matters that should be planned for while you are living include:
- Health Care documents naming persons to make medical decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself
- Powers of attorney allowing someone to take care of your real estate, money, and other assets if you become disabled or otherwise unable to manage your affairs
- Funding money into retirement accounts or obtaining life insurance
- Preparing buy-sell agreements for businesses and assets you own with others
- Planning for disability or long-term care
- Creating liquidity for the purpose of paying estate taxes
Matters that you should plan for at your death include:
- Minimizing estate taxes and property taxes
- Avoiding probate
- Selecting the beneficiaries of your trust and non-trust assets
- Deciding when beneficiaries will control their inheritances
- Selecting who will be the trustees to administer your trust
- Protecting your beneficiaries’ inheritance from their creditors, spouses, and future estate taxes
- Choosing guardians to raise your minor children
Talk to Our Los Angeles Estate Planning Lawyers
At Tisser Law Group, we are committed to protecting your assets as well as your family’s rights today and in the future. We are a trusted legal team that has been serving individuals and families throughout the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles area for over 50 years. Entrust your estate plan to us and you can be sure that we will strive to create a personalized plan that best suits your specific needs and objectives.
To get started, contact our firm and schedule a consultation.
Family (Living) Trust
A family trust is an entity you establish to own your assets while you are alive in order to avoid probate when you die. If your assets are titled in the name of your family trust when you die, control of those assets will pass directly to your named successor Trustee (without probate) who can then hold the assets to distribute them to your beneficiaries.
If you do not have a family trust, it is likely your assets will have to be probated. Probate is a state-mandated court procedure to transfer your assets to your family when you die. Your assets will be probated whether or not you have a will.
The three most important matters to know about probate are:
- It can take one to one and a half years, or longer, to complete. If your family needs money during that time, they need to ask the court’s permission to receive money from the probate estate.
- Probates are very expensive. The attorney’s fees in probate are based on the gross value of the assets being probated. If your house is worth $1 million and you have a $600,000 mortgage on your house, the attorney’s fees are based on the $1 million gross value, not the $400,000 equity in the house. On a $1 million probate, the attorney’s fees would be approximately $23,000.
- Probate is a public proceeding, which means anyone can go to the court and look at your probate file. This would tell them what you were worth and how much each of your children or other beneficiaries will inherit, thereby eliminating any privacy you would have wanted.
The way to avoid probate is to set up a family trust and transfer your assets into the trust before you die.