Estate planning involves making financial and healthcare plans for your future and your loved ones. People often fail to make important estate planning decisions believing there is plenty of time. However, estate planning is most important because it provides for your estate and your family when you are no longer able to make those decisions.
Without an estate plan, probate can be expensive, time-consuming, and leave you without the ability to make decisions on how your estate will be used.
Estate planning options in California may include:
- Real Estate Disposition,
- Funeral and Burial Decisions,
- Power of Attorney,
- Advanced Healthcare Directives, and
- Tax Planning
Beyond a Will in California
A will (or last will and testament), is one of the most basic instruments in estate planning. The will provides for how the testator wishes their property to be distributed upon death. A will may also designate an executor to carry out the distribution of the estate, according to the will.
A trust is another estate planning option that has more flexibility and can go into effect while you are still living. With a trust, the individual can provide for beneficiaries before death, after passing away, and continuing on under the terms of the trust. Additionally, a trust generally avoids probate court and can be kept private, unlike a will.
Avoid Having Your Money Go to the Government
One of the most important aspects of estate planning is avoiding probate or the process of disposing of assets when a person does not leave a will. Not only will probate delay the process of settling your estate, but it may also distribute assets to people you never intended to receive money and avoid giving anything to your closest family and friends.
In some cases, where someone dies intestate, their property could escheat to the State of California. Additionally, without proper estate and tax planning, your assets may be subject to unnecessary state and federal taxation.
Making an estate plan goes beyond what happens after someone passes away. After an accident, illness, or degenerative medical issue, many people are left unable to communicate. A living will, advanced healthcare directive, and durable power of attorney can be used to make plans in the event you are unable to communicate about how you want to be cared for. This can include making decisions about end-of-life treatment and giving a designated person the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.
Providing for Your Family, Friends, and Loved Ones
Proper estate planning will allow you to provide for your family, friends, and loved ones after passing. The death of a loved one is a stressful time and providing for funeral and burial expenses will make the loss easier on your family. A clear and complete estate plan will also reduce disputes between family members over property, assets, and inheritance. Estate planning can also allow you to craft your own decisions about the disposition of property to churches, charities, friends, and even provide for family pets.
Estate Planning Attorneys in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, Including Bakersfield and the Remainder of Kern County
Having a trusted and understanding attorney is important in coming up with the right estate planning options for you and your family. At Zimmer & Melton, LLP, we understand that it can be difficult to make plans for the future after you are gone. We will help you create an estate plan that provides for your loved ones, respects your decisions, and reduces tax liability for your estate and family. Contact us with any questions on California estate planning or probate.