Estate planning is about helping you protect yourself, your loved ones and your assets during your lifetime and after.
Why Do You Need An Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning with our approach enables you to:
- Help your family: Avoid putting your family through the stress that comes with the probate process while they are trying to adjust to life without you.
- Protect your assets: Save potentially thousands of dollars in probate fees and estate taxes so that more of your assets will go to your loved ones rather than to attorneys and the government.
- Maintain control over your assets: Control who receives your assets after your lifetime, how much they receive and under what conditions. Estate planning is a great way to ensure your assets will go to the people and organizations you feel will appreciate the gifts and use them in ways that are consistent with your values and beliefs.
- Protect your beneficiaries from themselves: Structure gifts to your children and grandchildren so that they can receive money for things like education, buying a home or retirement, without giving them unrestricted access to any money until the age(s) you deem appropriate.
- Protect minor children: Identify whom you would want to raise your young children in the event you and your child’s other parent become incapacitated or pass away. Identifying your guardianship preferences before it’s too late can make the guardianship process easier on your kids.
- Have less stress: No matter what happens to you, you have already predetermined how you and your family will be taken care of and by whom.
- Prevent family arguments: When your financial and medical wishes are clearly spelled out in a comprehensive estate plan, there is often more family support for your decisions and less second-guessing by family members.
How Can Our Santa Rosa Estate Planning Law Firm Help You?
Integrated Estate Plans: We help our clients by crafting customized estate plans using tools such as:
- Revocable trusts
- Irrevocable trusts
- Durable powers of attorney
- Advance health care directives
Probate and Estate Administration: When a person passes away, many things have to be done to complete the administration of the estate. We can assist executors and trustees with their responsibilities, including:
- Preparing or reviewing documents for the court
- Distributing property to heirs and beneficiaries
- Communicating required information to beneficiaries
Choosing Fiduciaries: An executor should be named in a will to administer the estate. Similarly, a trustee should be named in a trust to administer a trust estate. Executors and trustees are fiduciaries, which means they are required to:
- Put the beneficiaries’ (or estate’s) interests ahead of their own personal interests and
- Remain impartial
Most people’s initial inclination is to name their children as their fiduciaries in their estate plans. We have found, however, that sometimes children are not the best choice for this role. This is especially true when the children do not have the skills, interest, time or ability to remain impartial or put their personal interests aside. There are professional fiduciaries we work with who can step into the role of executor or trustee in situations like these.
Taxes: We assist our clients with various tax-related issues, including:
- Estate taxes
- Gift taxes
- Property taxes
- Tax planning
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