What is Estate Planning?
Having an estate plan in place is extremely important. With the proper combination of documents, including a will, trust, and other items, you can ensure:
- Your estate will NOT go through probate, which could cost thousands of dollars and take years. Learn more about Probate.
- Your assets are distributed to whom you wish and under what circumstances
- You have control of your health care decisions in the event you become incapacitated
- Your minor children are cared for by the persons you choose.
Revocable Living Trust
The most important reason to have a revocable living trust in California is to avoid probate. Whether or not you have a will, your estate will go through probate. During this process the State of California will decide who will get everything you have worked your entire life to earn. Trusts do not require probate or probate proceedings and thereby avoid the expense and inconvenience associated with it.
Your trust is also important to avoid conservatorship proceedings if you should become incompetent before your death. About 50% of people become incompetent before they die. Your trust allows you, not a court, to choose who will be in charge of your assets if you become very ill or incompetent.
Certificate of Trust
The Certificate of Trust a public document used to put assets (bank accounts, sock accounts, mutual funds, real property etc.) into your trust. Your Certificate of Trust is the document you show to the bank, stock broker, escrow officer etc. for items you wish to place in the name of your trust.
Pour Over Will
When you have a Trust you also have a very special kind of Will. It will determine who will care for your minor children, what you want your burial and funeral arrangements to be, and will protect you if you forget to put anything into the name of your Trust.
General Durable Power of Attorney
Your General Durable Power of Attorney is designed to allow someone, usually the same person who will be in charge of your trust, under the circumstance of your disability to sign your name.
Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare
You have a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare so that someone you choose, not someone chosen by a Judge of the Superior Court, can make medical decisions for you if you can not make those decisions for yourself.
Tax Benefits and Avoiding the Death Tax
Having a properly executed will and trust can also drastically decrease the amount of money your family will spend in taxes upon your death. You can decrease or even reduce the tax burden to zero with the right documentation.