The goal of estate planning is to ensure your assets and properties are distributed exactly as you wish, with little to no financial obligation required of your heirs and beneficiaries. While a Will may be enough in some cases, most clients find that Trusts are the best way to plan for the future and prevent probate, fees and taxes. Additional aspects of the estate planning process include Advanced Healthcare Directives, Durable Powers of Attorney, Medi-Cal Planning and more.
It’s never too early to begin discussing your plans with an experienced legal team that handles estate planning and administration on a regular basis. The attorneys at the Law Offices of W. Lance Russum are happy to review your current assets, properties and portfolios, discuss your long-term plans, and/or revisit previous or outdated estate plans we can bring them up to date.
Contact our office to schedule a consultation and we’ll work diligently to get your affairs in order and provide you with peace of mind.
4 Goals of Thorough Estate Planning: Contact an Alameda Estate Planning Lawyer for Assistance
- Clearly Direct the Distribution of Your Estate. If you die without a Will or Estate in place, the entirety of your property and assets will be distributed by the state of California according to current rigid and objective intestacy laws. Even a well-executed will can land in probate and there is no will that isn’t subject to will contest, which adds another layer of complexity to the situation. All properties and deeded or titled assets will go into what is called Probate, a very complicated and often costly process whereby rightful heirs must jump through a myriad of legal hoops in order to receive what they are entitled to.
Don’t let this happen to your hard-earned estate. Sit down and talk to an estate planning lawyer so we can create a Trust that ensures your assets and properties are distributed according to your wishes and without ever having to go through the tedious Probate process. Even if you currently have a legal Will in place, it makes sense to discuss it with a lawyer. Direct distribution of certain assets, including joint properties, retirement accounts, health insurance benefits, etc. may not be able to be directly distributed without a Trust in place.
- Avoid Probate. As mentioned in Goal Number 1, if you die with or without a will, your property will be subject to Probate. Probate is a public and supervised process that takes place through the courts and slowly works to transfer your assets to your beneficiaries. It is very time consuming, requires a tremendous amount of diligence on the part of the beneficiaries willing to participate in the process and it can be extremely expensive. Not to mention, this all takes place while loved ones are in the midst of grieving. If the combined total of your assets is greater than $150,000, they are subject to probate. This total includes any liabilities against your assets. The court determines this total based on fair market value. Therefore, if your home is work $750,000 and you owe $700,000, the property will still be subject to probate. A well-orchestrated estate plan provides for probate avoidance.
- Provide Asset Protection on Transfers of Wealth and Minimize Tax Liabilities. In most cases, a properly designed estate plan will seriously reduce or eliminate altogether any fees that would drain the assets left to your heirs and beneficiaries. Additionally, your estate should be structured so your beneficiaries are relieved from the responsibility of paying the income and transfer taxes associated with inheritances. This can include any number of strategies such as marital deductions and the utilization of unified credit, planning using family limited partnerships and limited liability companies, lifetime gifts using the annual exclusion, etc.
- Providing for Mental Incapacity. Your estate planning should also provide for the potential scenario in which you are mentally incapable of making decisions for your own physical and financial well-being. To protect your wishes, we can work with you and/or your family members to establish a Durable Power of Attorney as well as an Advanced Health Care Directive and end of life instructions. Working with your Trustee(s) and or Agent(s) will help to ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event that you are incapacitated.
Schedule Your Consultation with Your Local Alameda Estate Planning Team
To learn more about the intricacies of estate planning, probate, trust administration, Medi-Cal planning and other estate-related legal procedures, contact the Law Offices of W. Lance Russum. Our team will guide you through the steps required for comprehensive estate planning, and we’ll make sure that your wishes are carried out exactly as you intended.