At Pakpour Banks LLP, we know that estate planning is essential to set families up for future success. A well-crafted estate plan can ensure that all your assets go exactly where you intend once you pass. It can also minimize the amount your estate pays in taxes and fees and maximize the benefit you provide to your beneficiaries. Most importantly, a clearly written estate plan can stop potential conflicts between beneficiaries before they happen.
Our firm takes a client-focused approach to estate planning and works closely with families to accomplish their goals. A Woodland estate planning lawyer at Pakpour Banks LLP can walk you through the process and advise you on how to most effectively organize your estate plan. We know how to use a vast range of tools to help families of all ages and income levels plan for the future. Our firm also has the resources to assist Spanish-speaking families. Contact our firm today so that we can help you safeguard your legacy.
The Benefits of Estate Planning
In California, estate planning is not just a tool for the wealthy. There are several benefits of estate planning that people from across the economic spectrum can take advantage of.
To start, an estate plan that clearly articulates your wishes can reduce familial conflict. Arguments over inheritances often bring out the worst in people. Grief and fear can be misdirected at the people you love. Sometimes these conflicts fester, and the relationships never heal. A clearly written will can help your family avoid conflict and better manage their grief during a difficult time.
An estate plan will also make the legal processes your loved ones must go through after you pass easier on them. The probate process can be long and complicated. Lengthy probate proceedings contribute to feelings of uncertainty among your beneficiaries. An estate plan can reduce the risk of a drawn-out probate process and get your assets to the people you want as quickly as possible.
In most cases, there are also financial benefits to creating an estate plan. Your estate can save on court fees, taxes, attorney fees, and personal representative compensation with proper planning. Oftentimes, these savings are significant. The more you save, the more you can provide to your loved ones.
Finally, an estate plan can also help you protect yourself. An advanced healthcare directive and power of attorney are important estate planning documents designed to protect you. These documents clearly state your wishes in the event that you become incapacitated. They allow you to choose how you will be cared for and who will manage your affairs when you cannot do so yourself.
What Documents to Include in Your Estate Plan
A comprehensive estate plan should include several documents to offer you and your beneficiaries the most value and protection. A Woodland estate planning lawyer can help you determine the documents needed to accomplish your goals. They will then draft the documents so that they accurately reflect your wishes and comply with California law.
An advanced directive is a document that articulates your medical preferences in the event that you become incapacitated. The document accomplishes this goal in two ways. First, it allows you to state your medical care preferences ahead of time. Providing this guidance will help medical professionals care for you the way you want and reduce stress on your loved ones. Second, while writing an advance directive, you will appoint a representative to make decisions for you when you can not.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to manage your legal and financial affairs if you are unable to. The person you select is called the attorney-in-fact. Choosing a trustworthy and capable attorney-in-fact is essential because they will have a lot of power over your affairs. You can grant the attorney-in-fact narrow powers or broad powers. An experienced attorney can help you determine how to best tailor your power of attorney to your needs and goals.
Last Will and Testament
Without a last will and testament, California courts will distribute your assets according to California’s intestate succession laws. A will allows you to decide who will receive your assets once you pass. Wills can also be used to choose a guardian for minor children and pets.
When writing a will, it is critical to carefully consider who will be responsible for carrying out your last wishes. This person—who is known as a personal representative—is responsible for probating your estate and distributing its assets to your beneficiaries. You must also ensure that your will is valid under California state law to reduce the chance that it will be successfully contested.
Revocable Living Trust
In some cases, a revocable living trust will be necessary to accomplish your estate planning goals. A living trust takes ownership of your assets and manages them on your behalf. When you pass, the living trust will continue to manage the assets on your beneficiaries’ behalf.
Living trusts give you more precise control over the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. They also help you avoid many costs associated with probating your estate in court.
Other documents might be required to make your estate plan as comprehensive as possible. You should list these documents in an inventory so your personal representative can quickly locate them. Other relevant documents you might want in your estate plan include the following:
- Insurance policies,
- Titles and deeds,
- Tax documents,
- Financial account information,
- Digital account information, and
- Funeral arrangements.
A Woodland estate planning attorney can help you gather the necessary documents and effectively account for them in your estate plan.
Importance of Regularly Updating an Estate Plan
Once your estate plan is written and executed, it is crucial to update it regularly. Updates should account for significant changes in circumstances such as marriage or divorce, new children or grandchildren, and any other major life events. Changes in financial circumstances are also very important to capture. The best way to ensure your estate plan stays current is to update it annually. A Woodland estate planning lawyer can help you review your estate plan and update it as needed.
Why You Should Work With a Woodland Estate Planning Lawyer
Do-it-yourself wills are becoming more commonplace. The ubiquity of do-it-yourself wills might make you wonder why you should hire an estate planning lawyer. While do-it-yourself wills may sometimes work, they often fail to account for an individual’s specific circumstances. Further, many do-it-yourself wills are only valid in some states. If your will cannot be enforced in California, that means your property will be distributed according to California law and not according to your wishes.
At Pakpour Banks LLP, we have a deep understanding of Woodland estate planning law. We will work diligently to ensure that your estate plan complies with California law and fully reflects your unique needs and goals. Contact Pakpour Banks LLP today so that we can help you plan for the future.