Estate planning has many benefits to offer regardless of the size of your estate. In fact, estate planning isn’t only for the wealthy. Planning your estate is about ensuring your wishes are fulfilled. To ensure your wishes are carried out, whether to establish a will to designate your property to particular loved ones or to set up a trust to provide for the future, partner with an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney.
The estate planning lawyers at Sakamoto & Ruelas, APC, can provide comprehensive guidance in planning your estate. With years of experience helping local residents in and around the Lake Forest area, our attorneys are well-adept at understanding and following California estate law. This means we can help you establish a sound will or trust that will hold up in probate court, saving your family time and money by bypassing typical probate processes and procedures.
Estate planning is the legal means by which an individual preemptively decides how their property and assets will be divided and distributed to those they choose to designate as beneficiaries. Estate planning also grants legal decision-making power to an individual over financial, medical, and legal decisions on their behalf. Most commonly, individuals establish an estate plan that includes some combination of a will, a type of trust, and other legal documents outlining final wishes, such as designating a power of attorney.
Having an estate plan is very important because, without one, an individual leaves these important decisions up to the state to dictate. When a person dies without a will, for example, the state will place all their property and assets into probate, where a court will decide how it is to be divided and distributed.
To ensure that you stay in control of how your legacy and estate will continue on after you, partner with a skilled Lake Forest estate planning attorney as soon as possible.
A will is a legal document that outlines an individual’s wishes upon their passing. Generally, it outlines who the beneficiaries will be, how any and all assets and property will be distributed, who will care for minor children, if the decedent has any, and who will execute the estate plan, known as the executor.
Individuals may also opt to make a living will, which outlines what is to be done in the event of incapacitation. This means they will be unable to make their own decisions. In this event, the named power of attorney will have decision-making power over the estate, other finances, medical decisions, and healthcare, depending on how the living will was set up.
A trust differs from a will in a few ways. First, it circumvents the court, bypassing the need to go through probate in order to execute the estate plan. In a trust, the designated assets go into a trust fund, where a trustee, someone chosen to manage the trust, carries out the instructions given at the creation of the trust. Second, because it avoids the courts, it is a private affair, leaving potentially sensitive financial information anonymous and protected from public knowledge.
For example, a decedent may allocate a sizable portion of their estate into a trust to be given to their child after certain conditions have been met, such as the child turning 18 years old. It may also include further instructions, such as dispersing only a small portion of the estate at a time, such as monthly.
A: Hiring an estate planning attorney in California will cost an average of between $2,000 – $5,000, depending on the complexity of your estate. Merely drafting a will and designating beneficiaries is the simplest form of estate planning people most commonly do. Your estate planning will increase in complexity as you designate powers of attorney, establish a living will, set up a trust, or have an estate exceeding a certain threshold of value.
A: Probate is required for any estate in California that is worth more than $166,250. Estates valued under this amount may qualify for a simple transfer process; however, most other estates must go to court to begin a formal probate case. Probate is a legal process intended to settle a decedent’s estate and is required for real property even if the decedent had a will. However, you can bypass the probate process altogether by setting up a trust.
A: The cost to set up a trust in California is comparable to the cost of any other estate planning process. It is important to remember that each attorney charges their own fees. On average, you can expect to pay between $2,000 – $5,000 to hire an estate planning attorney to help you set up a trust. Once you set up a trust, however, you will save yourself significant time and money by avoiding going through probate later on.
A: A clearly written and legally sound will can help make the California probate process significantly easier. It can also help ensure that your wishes are preserved and carried out. However, a will alone is not necessarily enough to avoid probate in California. Without a will, the courts rely on state law to distribute your assets amongst any legal beneficiaries. However, for estates valued under $166,250, you may be able to avoid probate with the help of an attorney.
Estate planning is an incredibly important process. It is also a complex and difficult process to attempt to navigate alone. Partner with an experienced estate planning attorney, like those at Sakamoto & Ruelas, APC, today. Contact our office to learn more about how to ensure your wishes are carried out when the time comes.