Whether you are planning to protect your estate during your lifetime, for your children and future generations, or for your health care, we can help with all aspects:
Estate planning documents should be flexible and designed to fit your unique needs, as opposed to simply plugging you into a generic form. We work closely with you to determine your goals and create precise instruments to carry out your intentions.
You have worked hard for your family, so knowing that you have planned for their long-term well-being and financial security can bring you great comfort. We analyze your estate and strategize the best means of transferring your assets to your heirs, minimizing taxes, protecting your children, supporting your charitable causes and generally protecting your loved ones, including caring for your pets.
A will is essential at every stage of your life. Your will provides the opportunity to distribute your property, establish care for your children and otherwise express your wishes. A will is necessary if you intend to leave property to a person or entity other than a blood relative such as a friend or a charity. If you die without a will, California law and the court will determine how your property is distributed and who cares for your children, making decisions that might not reflect your desires.
As your life changes so might your estate plan. You should update your will periodically. We can draft valid codicils that address changes in your financial situation, marital status, number of children and charitable interests.
Most clients today put their assets into a Revocable Trust so as to avoid probate. Doing so will also cause your assets to avoid a claim by the State of California if you receive funds from Medi-Cal during your lifetime. Because a Revocable Trust, if established and funded properly, will avoid probate, you avoid the statutory probate attorney and executor fees which can be substantial, delays in distribution of your estate, and the public exposure of your assets. We recommend a Living Trust in almost all cases.
The Irrevocable Trust is generally used to avoid estate taxes and sometimes used to qualify you for Medi-Cal benefits. The size of your estate may indicate the appropriateness of an Irrevocable Trust for you. For clients with large estates, an irrevocable generation skipping trust can be a very effective way for avoiding estate tax on your children’s deaths, thereby preserving 40% (under current law) of their estate from being paid to the government. This can amount to millions of dollars and can prevent the need to sell trust assets to pay the tax.
This document appoints a person to make health care decisions for you if you ever become incapacitated. This is essential to avoid the need for a conservatorship which can be costly and brings the court into your personal decision making. This document is also important because you can advise your agent what end of life decisions you would like made for you. Essentially this means when and how to “pull the plug”.
In your will you have the opportunity to appoint guardians for your minor children. This is extremely important for young couples with young children and will avoid disputes among your relatives if the situation ever occurs. These same individuals can also be appointed as trustees over a continuing trust for your children so that their assets can be more efficiently managed and protected.
For comprehensive estate planning services in Yuba City and throughout California, call Guth & Changaris A Professional Law Corporation at 530-674-9841 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.