Everyone can benefit from going through the estate planning process with a knowledgeable and caring San Diego estate planning attorney, but far too many people put it off. Why? Some assume that their estate is not large enough. Others have the mistaken belief that estate planning is only for the elderly. Like many things, the excuses are endless and often without meaning. The truth is estate planning is essential, not just for you and what happens to your property after you die, but also for your loved ones.
A comprehensive estate plan says more than “here’s who gets my stuff after I die” – rather, it should include strategies designed to structure what will happen to you and your assets while you’re alive and healthy, who will manage your financial and healthcare decisions should you become incapacitated, as well as what happens upon your death.
Furthermore, asset protection planning and business succession planning can assist you if you have specific concerns relating to your assets during your life and how they should be treated upon your death so that things are accomplished in the most tax efficient and asset protective structure possible.
If you do not have an estate plan, things that you would most likely want to decide for yourself will be decided by the State of California. Furthermore, this can complicate the grief and other aspects of managing your estate that your loved ones have to deal with.
Some of the matters we’ll address, and resolve to your satisfaction, as we guide you through the San Diego estate planning process include:
– Who would inherit your assets after you pass away?
– Who will take guardianship of your minor children?
– How do we structure things so that your assets are income tax advantageous during life and estate tax advantageous at death?
– Would your assets be left to your beneficiaries outright or in a protected trust structure?
– Who would administer your estate after you pass away?
– Who would determine health care choices for you if you became unable to?
– Would you prefer to be kept alive artificially or pass away in a natural death?
– Do you have someone to manage your finance or real estate concerns if you were to become incapacitated?
The answers to these questions illustrate just how many matters can be addressed by the right estate plan and the right estate planning attorney. With no estate plan, these decisions will be made by legal statutes, courts or individuals who might not be the same people that you would have otherwise selected.
These can be some of the biggest and most critical decisions in your life and can impact you and your loved ones tremendously if you become incapacitated or pass away. The right estate planning lawyer will take a customized and holistic approach to your estate planning needs. Whether you are an individual, a part of a married couple with no children, have minor children, or a married couple with a blended family, you can benefit from the estate planning process, and sitting down with a lawyer sooner rather than later will open your eyes to the various tactics and strategies available to you.
Believe it or not, you do have an estate. Practically everyone has an estate because this includes everything you own; real estate, investments, your home, your car, furniture, your life insurance, personal possessions, and your checking or savings account. No matter how big or small, everyone has an estate, and they all share one crucial aspect; that you cannot take these assets with you when you pass away.
To ensure that your wishes are appropriately followed, you need to have a clearly articulated estate plan. Far too many estate planning conflicts emerge after a loved one passes away because things were not appropriately addressed during life.
Having a clear understanding of how your estate plan is structured will make things easier for your loved ones during the most difficult of times.
Your estate plan encompasses many more issues though, including:
– Naming a guardian for your minor children along with detailed instructions as to how you’d like your children to be raised
– Including care instructions if you were to become disabled before you pass
– Instructions for passing on your values
– Providing for the transfer of your business
– Minimizing court costs, unnecessary legal fees and taxes
– Including life insurance to provide for your family members at death
– Providing for family members with special needs without disruption
– Including an asset protection plan to decrease your chances of having your assets accessed by someone you do not want
Too many people put off estate planning because they assume that they are not old enough, they think they have plenty of time to do it, they assume they don’t own enough assets, or they are busy. If you don’t have a plan, the state of California has one for you (for better or worse). Whether you become incapacitated or pass away suddenly, your family members will be the ones left behind to grapple with the difficulties of managing your estate.
You cannot come back to address these issues after the fact, and you will most likely want to have a smooth transition of your assets and your wishes carried out as soon as possible so that your loved ones can focus on grief and the healing process. If you fail to take the necessary planning steps, you are putting everyone in your family in a difficult position and dramatically increasing the chances that your loved ones will have to deal with conflicts after you have passed away.
You can avoid this situation by finding an attorney sooner rather than later, one who can walk you through every aspect of the estate planning process in a clear and concise manner, and provide you with the information you need to make a fully informed decision as to what’s best for you and your loved ones.