Fullerton Estate Planning Lawyer

Fullerton Estate Planning Lawyer
Fullerton Estate Planning Lawyer

Fullerton Estate Planning Attorney

While it can be uncomfortable to think about the passing of yourself or a loved one, it is important to think of the financial implications of such a tragic event. It is crucial to ensure that your family is taken care of with adequate asset protection. Establishing key measures such as securing wills, making living trusts, and having a thorough estate plan can help protect the future of those you love in Fullerton, CA.

The award-winning attorneys at Sakamoto & Ruelas, APC, are experts in estate planning. We can help you master the estate planning process. Our firm has years of experience in the minute details of estate planning. We can help you plan for adverse events, such as death, by advising you on matters such as wills and trusts. Starting early can help you or your family avoid going to probate court. However, if it comes to that, our attorneys can fight for your family’s assets during the litigation process.

Settling an Estate in California

When you or a family member dies, you might need to go through the complex process of estate planning. The steps for settling an estate in California include the following:

  • Determine if a will exists. If the deceased had a will, it will need to be probated in court to ensure that it is valid and to appoint an executor.
  • Identify the assets. The executor will need to gather information about the deceased’s assets and debts. These include bank accounts, real estate, personal property, and any other assets.
  • Notify creditors. The executor will need to notify creditors of the death and the estate proceedings. This will provide them with an opportunity to file claims.
  • Obtain all required licenses and permits. The executor will need to obtain any necessary licenses and permits to settle the estate. These include a tax clearance certificate from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the California Franchise Tax Board.
  • Pay debts and taxes. The executor will need to pay any outstanding debts, including taxes, and settle any outstanding accounts.
  • Distribute assets. The executor will distribute the assets according to the terms of the will or, if there is no will, according to California’s laws of intestacy.
  • Close the estate. Once all debts have been paid and assets have been distributed, the executor will need to file a petition with the court to have the estate closed.

It is important to consult with an attorney to ensure that the estate is settled correctly and in compliance with all applicable laws. Additionally, the executor should keep detailed records of all transactions and activities related to the estate.

Establishing the Basics of an Estate Plan

A California estate plan is a set of legal documents that lay out an individual’s wishes for their assets and healthcare in the event of their incapacity or death. A typical California estate plan may include:

  • Last Will and Testament: This specifies how an individual’s assets will be distributed after their death. It can also name a guardian for any minor children.
  • Durable Power of Attorney: This grants authority to another person to make financial decisions on behalf of the individual if they are incapacitated.
  • Advance Healthcare Directive: This specifies an individual’s wishes for their healthcare if they are unable to make decisions for themselves. It can include a living will and the appointment of a healthcare agent.
  • Trust: A trust can be used to avoid probate, provide for beneficiaries, and reduce estate taxes. There are several types of trusts, including revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, and testamentary trusts.
  • Beneficiary Designations: These designations specify who will receive the assets in certain accounts in the event of the individual’s death. These include life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and bank accounts.

It is important to have a comprehensive estate plan in place to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. It can also minimize the stress and costs associated with settling an estate. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you create an estate plan that meets your specific needs and goals.

Understanding What a Will Is

A will is a formal document that specifies, upon an individual’s death, how their assets will be distributed. A will can also name a guardian for any minor children and appoint an executor. They will be responsible for carrying out the terms of the will.

Wills are a common component of estate planning and can provide peace of mind. However, wills must be probated (a legal process where a will is reviewed by a court to ensure it is valid) after the individual’s death. This can be a time-consuming and costly process.

Writing a Comprehensive Will to Protect Your Family’s Future

Writing a will is an important step in estate planning and ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death. There are certain steps to follow when writing a will:

  • Determine the purpose of your will. Consider what you want to accomplish with your will, such as specifying who will receive your assets and who will be the guardian of any minor children.
  • Identify your assets. Make a list of all your assets, including real estate, personal property, bank and investment accounts, and any other assets you own.
  • Choose an executor. This is the person who will be responsible for carrying out the terms of your will. Consider choosing someone who is trustworthy and organized.
  • Choose a guardian. If you have minor children, you should name a guardian who will be responsible for their care if you pass away.
  • Draft the will. Write the will in clear, concise language. Include specific instructions for distributing your assets, including who will receive what and when.
  • Have the will witnessed and signed. In California, a will must be signed by the testator (the person making the will) in the presence of two witnesses. They must also sign the will.
  • Store the will in a safe place. Keep the original will in a safe place. Provide a copy to the executor and any other relevant individuals.

You should consider consulting with a qualified estate planning attorney. They can help ensure that your will meets the requirements of California law and accurately reflects your wishes.

Getting Familiar With the Most Common Trusts

There are several different types of trusts, each with its own unique features and benefits. Some of the most common types of trusts include:

  • Revocable Living Trust: This type of trust allows the grantor to retain control over the assets during their lifetime. It can also avoid probate.
  • Irrevocable Trust: This trust is typically used for asset protection and tax planning. The grantor gives up control of the assets in the trust. However, they may still receive income from the trust.
  • Special Needs Trust: This kind of trust is designed for individuals with disabilities. It helps preserve their eligibility for government benefits while providing for their needs.
  • Charitable Trust: This trust allows individuals to donate assets to a charity while also receiving a tax deduction. They can also potentially receive income from the trust.
  • Testamentary Trust: This type of trust is created through a will and is only activated after the grantor’s death.

The best type of trust for you and your family depends on your specific circumstances, including your assets, liabilities, family structure, and personal goals. It is best to consult with an attorney or financial advisor to determine the best type of trust for your situation.

What Goes Into an Advance Healthcare Directive

In an advance healthcare directive, you can specify the following:

  • Treatment Preferences: You can specify the type of medical treatment you wish to receive or not receive, such as life-sustaining treatments. You can also list any other specific medical treatments you do or do not want.
  • Healthcare Agent: You can appoint a person (known as a “healthcare agent” or “proxy”) to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
  • Instructions for End-of-Life Care: You can specify your preferences for end-of-life care, such as hospice care.
  • Organ Donation: You can specify their preferences for organ donation. This includes whether you wish to donate any organs or tissues.

An advance healthcare directive is a personal document. The specific details included will depend on your unique preferences and needs.

What Assets to Identify During Estate Planning

Identifying assets in estate planning is an important step in ensuring that an individual’s wishes for their assets are carried out after their death or incapacity. Some common assets that may need to be considered in estate planning include:

  • Real Estate: This includes homes, vacation properties, and other real property.
  • Personal Property: These are tangible assets, such as jewelry, artwork, and other collectibles.
  • Bank and Investment Accounts: Checking and savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and other investments should be considered.
  • Retirement Accounts: These are individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401(k)s, and other retirement savings plans.
  • Life Insurance Policies: This includes life insurance policies with a cash value as well as term life insurance policies.
  • Business Interests: Ownership in a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation needs to be outlined.
  • Digital Assets: These include online bank accounts, social media accounts, and other online assets.

It is important to make a comprehensive list of all assets, including their location and value, to ensure that they are properly accounted for in the estate plan. A qualified estate planning attorney can help identify these assets. They can also ensure that they are properly addressed in the estate plan.


At what age do most people do estate planning?

Estate planning is recommended for anyone over the age of 18, regardless of their wealth or assets. However, it is especially important for those over the age of 50. They are more likely to have accumulated more assets and may have concerns about health and end-of-life decisions. It is also suggested for those with a large net worth. Anyone who wants to ensure their assets are distributed according to their wishes should consider estate planning.

What is the average cost of an estate plan in California?

The average cost of an estate plan in California varies depending on the complexity of the plan and the attorney’s fees. On average, a basic estate plan, which includes a will, power of attorney, and advanced healthcare directive, can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. The cost can go up if the estate is more complex, such as if it includes trusts or tax planning.

Can a trustee also be a beneficiary?

Yes, a trustee can also be a beneficiary in a trust. In fact, it is common for the grantor (the person who creates the trust) to name themselves as the trustee and their spouse, children, or other family members as the beneficiaries of the trust. However, it is important to consider potential conflicts of interest that may arise when a trustee is also a beneficiary. One should always carefully consider the choice of trustee.

Can property left in trust be sold?

Yes, property left in a trust can be sold. Whether a trust can sell property depends on the terms of the trust agreement and any applicable state law. Some trusts are designed to be revocable, meaning that the grantor (the person who creates the trust) can make changes to the trust, including selling trust property, during their lifetime. Other trusts are irrevocable, meaning that once established, the terms of the trust cannot be changed and the grantor cannot sell trust property.

Work With Lawyers Who Can Protect Your Future Right Now

It is important to ensure that your assets are handled safely in the future. To do that, you should work with knowledgeable attorneys with years of experience in estate planning. The attorneys at Sakamoto & Ruelas, APC, can help you with strategies to optimize your asset handling. We can provide you with opportunities to have all your remaining questions about estate planning answered. Reach out to an estate planning attorney at Sakamoto & Ruelas, APC, today to request a consultation. Start taking control of your family’s financial future.

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