We all want the best for our families: home, health, food, opportunities, and education. But who will provide “the best” for them when we no longer can due to death or incapacity? The reality of the situation in California is that if you do not have an Estate Plan in place when you pass away or become incapacitated, then the State of California will decide what “the best” is for your family through a long, expensive court process called Probate.
What is an Estate Plan?
It is a series of documents such as a living trust, will, Power of Attorney, and advance health care directive that allow you to make decisions now for the well-being of your family in the future.
What can happen to your family if you do not have an Estate Plan?
Everyone knows about wills. Most people think a will is enough to take care of things without any problems when you pass away.
That’s because of Probate, which is what your estate will likely be subjected to if you don’t have a living trust in place as part of your Estate Plan. There are innumerable, undesirable ways your family could be effected if your estate goes through Probate. Here are just a few:
- Your children could be in state custody while a temporary guardian is located.
- A judge who will know nothing about you or your family will appoint a guardian. The guardian may be a person who you never would have chosen.
- Your extended family may be involved in a long, expensive custody battle over your minor children.
- A relative may challenge the guardian you named in your will.
- Your children will lose 8 – 10 % of the gross value of their inheritance because of statutory mandated fees. If you own a $400,000 home, the fee on that item alone would be $32,000 to $40,000, no matter how much is owed.
- Probate could tie up your assets for years and deprive your children of the resources they need to live comfortably and pursue their dreams.
- Your children could have total control over their inheritance at age 18, which could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. How many 18 year olds do you know who can wisely handle this kind of money, and who wouldn’t fall prey to people who want a share of it?
How can I help you protect your family?
Many estate planning attorneys don’t take the time to ensure your children’s needs and your desires are protected by your Estate Plan. Instead, they give you a boilerplate set of documents that accomplish the same things for you as for all of their other clients, no matter what your needs may be.
I choose to treat my clients individually; to take the time to learn what is best for them and their families. That’s why I will talk through these details with you and show you examples of how you can accomplish your goals.