Do You Have Questions About Estate Planning?
Many people find estate planning confusing and full of terms they don’t understand. I see my role at Tindage Law as a counselor and legal educator for my clients, to answer their questions and help them discover how to make the law work in their favor. Some common questions that clients ask me regarding estate planning include:
Do I need an estate plan?
People often assume that only the super-wealthy and the retired need an estate plan, but estate planning is for everyone. For example, young parents with minor children need a will to designate a guardian in case something happens to them. Anyone facing surgery should make sure they have a health care directive and power of attorney in place. An estate plan can help any family with peace of mind when facing the unexpected.
Why do I need a lawyer? Can’t I just fill out the forms I found online?
Online forms may look like they cover all the legal requirements for estate planning, but they can miss the mark and are no substitute for legal advice from an experienced estate planning attorney. An estate plan is of little use if it is not tailored to your specific needs. I will work with you to help you understand all the “what ifs” involved in estate planning and make sure your plan meets your legal goals for yourself and your family.
Is a trust better than a will?
Trusts and wills are two different tools you can use for estate planning, and they have different uses. Whereas a will can designate how to divide your assets through probate after you die, a trust might allow you to bypass probate altogether. There are many types of trusts, and they can allow you to set aside money or other assets for specific purposes. A will can allow you to designate a guardian for your minor child. I can help you determine which estate planning tools will work best for you.
What is the difference between guardianship and conservatorship?
In California, guardianship only applies to minor children who need an adult appointed to look after them when their parents cannot. Conservatorship applies to adults who do not have the mental capacity to care for and make decisions for themselves.
What is probate?
Probate is the name for the legal process of settling someone’s estate after they die, which includes paying creditors and taxes and dividing up the assets leftover among heirs or the people named in the person’s will. Probate only deals with assets in the person’s name when they died, and not already designated to a beneficiary. For example, a retirement account often has a named beneficiary who can receive the account immediately after death and does not have to wait for probate. A regular bank account, on the other hand, may be only in the deceased person’s name and need to go through probate.
Why do people try to avoid probate?
Probate is a court process that takes time and money. Using planning techniques such as a payable on death account, a trust or joint ownership allows for assets to pass to their intended beneficiaries much more quickly and avoid creditors and the many costs and fees associated with probate. In addition, probate is part of the public record. People often confuse avoiding probate with avoiding estate taxes. Proper estate planning can help you lessen your tax burden, to be sure, but not necessarily by avoiding the probate process.
Find The Answers To Your Questions
Although this section answers some common questions about estate planning, you probably have questions of your own. I am here to help you find the answers you need. Call the San Bernardino office at 909-789-0724 or send me an email to schedule an appointment with me.