The Right Estate Planning Attorney In Los Angeles for You
What happens to a person’s belongings when she passes away?
The answer depends on her estate planning. In legal terms, a person who has passed away is called a “decedent.” Her plan for her possessions is called an “estate plan.” An estate is everything that a person owns, including:
- Real Estate
- Bank Accounts
- Insurance Policies
- Personal Possessions
What Is Estate Planning?
You have the right to determine what happens to your assets after your death. Estate planning is the process of putting your wishes regarding your property into legally enforceable documents. An estate plan may involve naming who will receive certain portions of the individual’s estate, allocating donations to charitable causes, providing for surviving family members, making funeral arrangements, and more.
Estate planning is not just for people who are affluent and have many assets. Even individuals with a smaller estate should have a plan for the management of their estate. This can save your loved ones the pain and trouble of guessing your preferences for the distribution of your belongings or for your funeral arrangements. With an estate plan, you can make your wishes clear.
The death of a loved one is already a stressful and emotional time for the decedent’s family and friends. Creating a comprehensive and clear estate plan will eliminate the added burden of having to ascertain what your wishes would have been for your assets when you are no longer there to give input. It will also reduce the likelihood of a dispute among loved ones over any particular asset.
Planning For Your Children’s Care
No matter how many assets you have, estate planning is the best way to ensure that your family will be taken care of. You can make arrangements for financial support and decide who will raise your children in the event of your death. Without an estate plan, the courts will determine who will take over your children’s care and how much of your assets your children and spouse will get.
What happens if I don’t plan my estate?
California has laws in place for how to distribute the estate of someone who died “intestate,” or without a Last Will and Testament. Unfortunately, the way a state distributes assets intestate is rarely the way a decedent would have wished.
For example, in California, if one dies and has a spouse and children, the spouse will get all of the property held jointly. The spouse also receives half or one-third of any property held by the decedent before they were married. The children will get the other half or two-thirds.
If minor children are involved and an estate plan has not been made, a court will control what those minor children inherit. The court can’t get into the mind of the decedent and may make very different decisions than you would have.
An estate planning attorney can help eliminate these unforeseen circumstances. An attorney will be able to help you through your estate planning process and ensure that all aspects of your estate are addressed. Your loved ones will know exactly what you wanted and won’t have to worry about guessing your intentions.
What is the legal process involved in estate planning?
An estate planning case will involve drafting a Last Will and Testament or another document that will list your assets and how you would like them to be distributed. Depending on your needs, your estate plan may also involve Trust documents, Elder Law, Power of Attorney & Advanced Health Care Directives, Conservatorships, Guardianships, Medi-Cal Planning, and Special Needs Trusts.
Before drafting the Will or a Trust document, you and your attorney will identify all of your assets to ensure that nothing is forgotten. Clearly delineating what should go to whom will lessen the chance of a dispute after your death. The estate planning lawyer will explain all of your options so that you make the best decision for your individual situation.
Once you have decided how you would like assets to be distributed, the attorney will draft a document that clearly communicates your wishes. You will be given this document for review. After the document has been approved, it will be signed and witnessed to ensure that there are no disputes as to whether the will is valid, whether it was really what you wanted, and whether you actually wrote it.
How do I choose an estate planning attorney that is right for me?
The most important thing to consider when choosing an estate planning lawyer is the attorney’s experience. Some lawyers devote their whole practice to estate planning. Most likely, these attorneys have experience handling many different types of estates and different types of wishes by various clients. The more experience, the better – estate planning can be complicated whether you have few assets or many.
The Estate Planning attorneys referred by the Attorney Referral Service (ARS) of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association (SFVBA) have, on average, 25 years of experience. When you contact the ARS for a referral, you will receive a referral to a renowned attorney, vetted by the ARS, and acclaimed for their work in estate planning.
There is a modest administrative fee for a referral to a vetted and acclaimed ARS estate planning attorney. The fee is $30 for the general public and $10 for senior citizens 60 and over, regardless of your level of income. The ARS coordinates an initial in-person visit with the attorney. Our staff coordinates this appointment or home visit at mutually convenient time for the client and attorney. During the consultation, you and the attorney will discuss your needs and decide how to proceed. You are not obligated to hire the attorney, nor is the attorney obligated to handle your case.