Estate Planning, Wills & Trusts
Although no one likes to think about dying, there are good reasons to prepare for this inevitable event by setting up a plan to distribute one’s estate after death. A person’s estate consists of all his or her property and possessions, including bank accounts, real estate, furniture, automobiles, stocks, bonds, life insurance policies, retirement funds, pensions, and death benefits. If a person plans well, his or her estate can be passed on after death quickly, easily, and subject to fewer taxes.
Understandably this is an issue which most of us are uncomfortable discussing and many of us put it off so as to address issues in life which seem to be more pressing at this moment. However, an estate plan can and should put to rest those issues which we would rather not think about: Who will inherit my real and personal property? Will my personal property be protected from probate fees, the government, or people who do not have a vested interest in it? Who will care for my children in the event of my death? What type of funeral do I want? What instructions would I wish to give my physicians if I could no longer speak for myself?
Regardless of your social and marital status, age, or the size of your estate, an estate plan is a necessary step in ensuring that your property is ultimately distributed as you see fit and that your family will not have to make some of the agonizing decisions for you because you put them off. A properly prepared estate plan will also limit many of the legal obstacles necessary for property transfers which would otherwise need to be conquered if your estate needed to go through the probate process.
Your personal choices regarding the type of estate plan you need will vary depending on your personal situation, so it is important to contact us to make sure your property and heirs have the right level of protection.
Here is a small sampling of the California estate planning services we provide:
- Probate and Estate Administration
- Living Wills and Trusts
- Special Needs Trusts
- Durable Powers of Attorney
- Advanced Health Care Directives
- Trust Funding
When considering your estate planning needs and options it is important that you consult with an experienced attorney who will make your personal decisions a priority. Call our office today for a consultation.
Probate is the process that transfers legal title of property from the estate of the person who has died (the “decedent”) to his or her proper beneficiaries. It is a good idea to start the probate process as quickly as possible after a loved one dies. Obviously, funeral arrangements and other family matters need to be addressed first. Once these personal matters have been taken care of, it’s important to hire a competent attorney. An attorney can handle the process for you, leaving you with as little responsibility as possible in regards to the decedent’s estate.
The term “probate” refers to a “proving” of the existence of a valid Will, or determining and “proving” who one’s legal heirs are if there is no Will. Since the deceased can’t take it with them, probate is the process used to determine who gets his or her property.
The primary function of probate is transferring title of the decedent’s property to his or her heirs and/or beneficiaries. If there is no property to transfer, there is usually no need for probate.
Another function of probate is to provide for the collection of any taxes due by reason of the deceased’s death or on the transfer of his or her property.
The probate process also provides a mechanism for payment of outstanding debts and taxes of the estate, for setting a deadline for creditors to file claims (thus foreclosing any old or unpaid creditors from haunting heirs or beneficiaries) and for the distribution of the remainder of the estate’s property to one’s rightful heirs.
At the Law Offices of John M. Angerer, we help our clients create estate plans that place property into living trusts and joint tenancy which can be passed directly to heirs and beneficiaries without the time or expense of probate proceeding. However, not everybody has an estate plan in place when they pass away. If someone dies with a simple will, without a will, or with property owned as tenants in common, then probate often becomes the necessary, court-administered process of distributing the deceased person’s estate to those entitled to receive those assets.
Here is an overview of some of the probate options in California:
- Full Probate
- Spousal Property Petitions
- Probate for estates valued under $150,000
- Heggstad Petitions