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Estate Planning
Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and San Diego County, Estate Planning Lawyer

Assisting Individuals and their Loved Ones with Every Aspect of the Estate Planning Process in California

Good estate planning takes a lot of work, and when you are ready to embark on the process, it is important that you fully understand all of the necessary documents that go into a workable and successful estate plan. Proper estate planning is important and can result in consequences that will impact the members of your family for many years to come. Therefore, when it comes to preparing the proper documents, you want a lawyer on your side who is experienced in all areas of the estate planning process.

Attorney Roshni T. Desai can assist you and your loved ones with every aspect of estate planning, including explaining all of the necessary documentation. Our goal is to help you develop the most comprehensive and complete estate plan as possible. We can answer all of your legal questions, ensure that your documents comply with the law, and help you make decisions that are well-informed.

The Process of Estate Planning

The legal process of estate planning in the State of California is multi-faceted. As part of the estate planning process, we can assist you with all of the following:

  • Avoiding probate
  • Determining how the various assets in your estate will be successfully managed in the event you are not able to manage those assets because of old age or death
  • Determining how and when various assets in your estate will be transferred to other individuals, including other family members
  • Determining which family member or another individual will receive the various assets in your estate once you pass away
  • Making the necessary arrangements in the event something untimely happens to either you or someone whom you love

Primary Purposes of Successful Estate Planning

Successful estate planning in Orange County, California, has several ultimate goals and purposes. First, successful estate planning can help you lessen or avoid fees, taxes, and other expenses assessed upon your estate. Estate planning can also help with arranging for finance management and proper health care treatment or nursing home care in the event you become incapacitated at some point and are unable to care for yourself. Finally, proper estate planning can work to ensure that upon your death, your assets are distributed to those individuals whom you wish to have them.

The Importance of Estate Planning

Estate planning is what you are able to do now to make things easier for you and your family when more difficult times may come in the future. It is a way to get arrangements in place now when you are thinking more clearly and have the legal capacity to sign documents.

Many families struggle to make decisions when their loved one may be starting to decline. When that happens, the family member affected by the situation cannot fully participate in the decision-making process. Estate planning is a way of allowing them to have their say now about what happens in the future when they may not be able to express their opinion effectively. If you do not have an estate plan in place when you need it, the state or the courts may end up getting involved.

Time is of the essence when it comes to estate planning. You never quite know when you will need to have the legal arrangements in place. For things like long-term care trusts, there may be a lookback period that might need to run before they become fully effective.

Examples of Estate Planning

While estate planning involves your assets, there are many other things that can fall under the umbrella of estate planning. Estate planning can include:

  • Healthcare power of attorney and advance care directives
  • Financial power of attorney
  • Trusts to help preserve your assets from the high costs of long-term care
  • Trust arrangements to help minimize possible estate taxes
  • Designating beneficiaries for your accounts

Customized Estate Planning

Each family has its own unique situation. There is no one-size-fits-all estate plan that could work for everyone. Instead, you would arrive at an estate plan after considering your own specific situation and consulting with experts. You need to consider different contingencies and factor them into your estate plan.

In addition, you must periodically review your estate plan after you have put it into place. Circumstances in life change. People could pass or marriage could end. After every major life change, you should sit down with an attorney and figure out how it affects your estate plan. Even without changes, you should periodically review your plan and see if it matches your current life circumstances.

The Importance of an Estate Planning Attorney

When you need your estate plan, the last thing that you want is for it to be challenged or found invalid. Mistakes can happen, but never for your estate plan. Your estate planning attorney could help review your choices and draft the necessary documents for you. This could help you avoid errors that could cast questions on your estate plan when you need it the most.

An estate planning lawyer could also give you the confidence that you need to get started on the process. Many people hesitate because they simply do not know where to start. Your estate planning attorney will take the lead in suggesting options and formulating a plan so you can be prepared for any eventualities.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Estate Planning in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and San Diego County

What documents should I have in my estate plan?

A comprehensive estate plan is a series of documents that helps you prepare for what happens to your estate after you die or can no longer take care of yourself or your assets.

Depending on your unique needs, your estate plan can include a last will and testament, a revocable living trust, powers of attorney for property and healthcare, a living will or advance healthcare directive, and documents to designate beneficiaries for retirement benefits, life insurance policies, and other assets. Other documents and trusts may also be established.

Do I need to have a last will and testament?

A last will and testament is not required but it is one of the most fundamental documents to have in an estate plan in California. Your last will and testament enables you to make crucial decisions regarding your estate, allowing you to

  • Leave your assets and personal property to specific individuals and organizations
  • Name an executor to oversee the distribution of your estate and carry out the terms of your will
  • Name a personal guardian to care for your minor children
  • Name a financial guardian to manage property for your minor children

If you die without a will in California, state intestacy laws will determine how your assets will be distributed, taking the power of that decision away from you.

What are the benefits of having a revocable living trust?

Another foundational estate planning document is a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust will protect your assets while you are alive and make provisions for their distribution after your death.

While you are alive, you can control and make use of the assets placed in your revocable living trust. You also have the ability to revoke it or change the terms of the trust at any time during your life. When you die, your assets are then distributed to your beneficiaries by a successor trustee in accordance with the terms of the trust. Assets placed in a revocable living trust may be distributed to beneficiaries outside of the probate process, allowing them to gain access more quickly and with less cost.

What is a durable power of attorney?

A durable power of attorney, despite its name, does not have anything to do with lawyers but is a document that names an individual to function as your “attorney in fact” should you become incapacitated. Depending on the type of power of attorney, it will name another individual or individuals to make important financial or healthcare decisions when you are not able to do it for yourself.

What is a living will?

A living will sets out your wishes in critical medical life and death scenarios. Without a living will, your closest loved ones will have to make difficult decisions on their own, often without knowing what your personal wishes would have been in that circumstance. This can lead to feelings of guilt, family arguments, and undue suffering, both for you and your family.

How often should you update your estate plan?

An estate plan is not static, and your estate plan should change with changes in your life. It is important to revisit your estate plan with new births, divorces, bankruptcies, or other family or financial changes so you can ensure that your wishes are considered no matter what situations life presents.

Do I need to have an attorney develop my estate plan?

While you can make a will or complete a power of attorney without an estate planning attorney, ensuring that your estate plan complies with state laws and has provided for all possibilities can be a complex undertaking. Most people will benefit from having the advice and guidance of an experienced Orange County estate planning attorney to ensure that documents are properly drafted and executed and to tailor their estate plan to their unique financial and family situations.

A professional estate planning attorney will help you

  • Prepare a last will and testament that will be difficult for others to contest
  • Set up a revocable living trust or other trusts depending on your unique financial situation
  • Transfer assets into your trust and help oversee its administration
  • Plan for tax implications upon your death
  • Establish a charitable giving plan
  • Draft powers of attorney and a living will considering all possible scenarios
  • Understand California state laws concerning your estate

Contact an Orange County, California Estate Planning Lawyer Today

Estate planning can be a complicated process in California, and legal questions are sure to arise. If you and your loved ones are in the process of planning your estate, you should look no further than the Law Offices of Roshni T. Desai. We can assist you through every part of the process and ensure that your estate documents are carefully prepared – and that they reflect your goals and intentions.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Orange County, California estate planning attorney, please call us at 714-694-1200 or contact us online for more information.