• Why Don’t More Americans Have an Estate Plan?

    Millions of American adults don’t have an estate plan , despite it being the only way to ensure one’s wishes are carried out after death. One of the primary reasons why so many adults are in this situation is because it’s assumed that one must be wealthy in order to visit an estate planning attorney in Tracy or Livermore. If you’re one of these millions of American adults, it’s worth your time to explore the many benefits of estate planning.

    Estate attorneys do much more than just draft wills. They can create trusts, offer guidance on advance directives, and minimize estate taxes. With the help of your lawyer, you can make arrangements to manage your property during your life and after your death, and you can put a plan in place just in case you become incapacitated. If you have minor children, you can designate a legal guardian for them in the event that you die before they reach the age of majority. A comprehensive estate plan can make arrangements for family businesses, and provide for special needs dependents. In short, nearly every adult can benefit from visiting an estate planning lawyer to discuss future arrangements.

  • How Life Insurance Fits into Your Estate Plan

    You can purchase life insurance at any time, without consulting a lawyer. However, if you want to maximize the inheritances of your heirs , your best option is to seek professional estate planning advice in Tracy or Manteca. An attorney who handles these cases can give you the most effective guidance to make estate laws work for your family’s benefit.

    Watch this video to find out how. It features a financial planner, who presents the hypothetical example of a husband and wife who each gift $14,000 to each of their three children. This totals $84,000. The financial gifts would help their children today, but if the couple were to invest that amount into life insurance, their children could receive around five million in death benefits in the future.

  • Estate Planning Terminology Every Adult Should Know

    Estate law involves complex nuances of language, and the terminology can be baffling to non-lawyers. You can always count on a will lawyer near Tracy or Manteca to fully explain anything that isn’t clear to you. However, it’s still advisable for all adults to have a basic understanding of the most common estate planning terms.

    Last Will and Testament

    Your will dictates how, after satisfying debts, your remaining assets in your estate will be distributed to your heirs. Heirs are also called beneficiaries. You can use your will to distribute specific pieces of property if you wish, or to provide for your pets in the event that they outlive you. If you have any minor children, you should use your will to designate a guardian for them.

    Guardian

    A guardian is someone whom you trust to raise your minor children in the event that you die before they reach the age of majority.

    Executor

    The executor of your will is the person who will be responsible for seeing that its terms are carried out. Even when the executor works with a lawyer, he or she will have many complex responsibilities. Before designating an executor, you should ask that person if he or she is willing to take on these responsibilities.

    Trust

    A trust is a document that is legally binding. You can transfer assets into the trust during your lifetime. The trust manages the assets, and after your death, the trust distributes the assets to your beneficiaries.

    Trustee

    A trustee is a person whom you’ve designated to manage the trust. A trustee might also be a corporate entity instead of a single person. Trustees are responsible for administering and distributing the trust in accordance with the instructions in the trust document.

    Probate

    Probate is a legal process. It begins when the executor of a will files the will with the probate court in order to validate it. Validating a will means to prove that it’s legally valid. Probate involves paying the decedent’s debts and distributing the remaining assets.

  • Dealing with Sentimental Items in Your Will

    When most people think of wills and estate planning, they think of money and real estate, but in reality, some of the most contested items may be things of sentimental value. Your will lawyer in Tracy can help you decide the best way to give away sentimental items when you prepare your will.

    For some people, it makes sense to give away sentimental items now, rather than allowing them to be distributed after your death. You get to see people enjoy the gifts, and you can prevent any squabbling between relatives. You may also find out that what people are sentimental about it not what you think. If your will lawyer suggests putting items in the will instead, he or she will encourage you to be as specific as possible. For instance, simply saying that all of your belongings go to your children leaves the door open for disputes over who gets which belongings. Your attorney may also help you create a framework for settling disputes, such as setting up a bidding system your heirs can use if more than one person is adamant about getting an item.

  • Preparing for Your Estate Planning Appointment

    Estate planning is essential for every adult, regardless of the extent of their assets. When it’s time for you to visit an estate planning attorney in Tracy or Livermore, you should take some time to prepare. Arriving with the right documents and information allows you to get the most out of your estate planning appointment.

    Watch this video to find out which documents and information you will need to bring to your appointment. You’ll also learn about some of the matters that your lawyer can assist you with beyond the creation of a last will and testament. When you arrive at your appointment, you should be able to clearly state how your lawyer can help you, such as by offering general advice, setting up a trust, or protecting your assets.

  • Common Reasons for Changing or Revoking a Trust

    Trusts can figure prominently in estate planning. Living trusts are established when an individual makes plans for his or her estate and are controlled by the person who established until the time of his or her death. A trust can also be established in a will for the beneficiaries by the deceased. Some trusts are easy to change, while others can be difficult, depending on the circumstances under which it was established. Any time you want to create, change, or revoke a trust, it is important to seek the help of an estate-planning attorney in Tracy to make the process easier and ensure you adhere to the complicated requirements under the law.

    Reasons for Changing a Trust

    Changing a trust, or modifying it, for any reason is relatively simply if it is revocable. Your lawyer can help you write an amendment to the trust that is attached to the original document. This kind of modification is ideal for minor adjustments in terms that don’t dramatically alter the trust, such as tweaks that provide inheritance tax or adding a beneficiary. For major modifications, revoking the trust may be easier than attaching a number of amendment. Irrevocable trusts are more difficult to modify. The consent of all beneficiaries is required, regardless of the reason, and your lawyer must demonstrate to the court that there is a legally valid cause for amending the trust. Either the person who established the trust or his or her beneficiaries can request the modifications. Generally, these modifications are requested for tax savings or to change beneficiaries.

    Reasons for Revoking a Trust

    Revocable trusts are dissolved for a number of different reasons. Divorce commonly triggers the dissolution of a trust that was created jointly. Changes in financial situations, beneficiaries, property ownership, and company ownership can also lead people to revoke trusts to change the way they are managing their assets. In some cases, a trust is revoked and rewritten by a will lawyer when several modifications are required at one time. Fortunately, a lawyer can help you determine when to modify a trust and when to revoke it.

  • A Closer Look at Advance Directives

    advance directive, lawyer An advance directive does not deal with your finances, but it’s still an important component of estate planning . When it’s time to visit an estate planning attorney located in Tracy or Manteca, you can have him or her create your advance directive along with your last will and testament. This legal document informs your family members and healthcare providers of your healthcare preferences in the event that you are no longer capable of communicating these preferences.

    In an advance directive, your attorney could explain that you prefer to accept or refuse life-extending medical care. Use this document to specify your preferences regarding tube feeding, artificial respiration, and dialysis. If your heart rate or breathing stops, medical providers will need to know if you want to be resuscitated. If not, this is often referred to as a DNR, or a do not resuscitate order. Along with your advance directive, consider establishing a durable power of attorney for healthcare. This is a legal document that designates a healthcare proxy, which is a person whom you entrust to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to. Your healthcare proxy will follow any preferences specified in your advance directive.

  • What Are the Components of a Complete Estate Plan?

    estate planning, last will Estate planning can be complicated, but delaying getting your affairs in order may lead to undesirable consequences. If you’ve experienced a change in life circumstances, such as the birth of a child, a marriage, or the death of a family member, it’s time to make an appointment with a will lawyer with offices in Tracy or Livermore. Your estate planning attorney will walk you through the process step-by-step.

    Will

    Wills are a cornerstone of estate planning. A will serves several functions, including providing for the distribution of your property in accordance with your wishes. If you die intestate, which means without a last will and testament, then your property may be distributed in accordance with the laws of your state. Of course, it is not necessary to list every valuable item you own in your will. A simple will may leave all of a person’s possessions to his or her significant other. Or, you may designate most of your possessions to one person, with the exception of certain family heirlooms to be passed along to other individuals. You can also use your will to make charitable contributions and designate an executor. If you have minor children or you care for a permanently disabled individual, you can use your will to designate guardians .

    Beneficiary Designations

    You may have other beneficiaries in addition to those you name in your will. If you have a life insurance policy, you should check your designated beneficiaries and update this information if need be. You may also designate beneficiaries for your retirement plans.

    Trust

    You may choose to have your estate planning attorney establish a trust, which may provide tax advantages for your heirs. You can also use a trust to control the distribution of property after your death. For example, you may wish to leave assets to your minor children, but you may not necessarily want them to have access to the funds right away. You could structure your trust so that your children will receive a certain amount at specific intervals. A trust can help prevent financial irresponsibility among younger beneficiaries.

  • When Should You Start Planning Your Estate?

    If you haven’t yet spoken with an estate planning lawyer in Tracy or Manteca, it may be time to make an appointment. Adults can consult attorneys about estate planning at any age. However, as you will learn when you watch this brief video, most individuals begin the estate planning process when they encounter major changes in their life circumstances.

    These changes may include getting married, becoming pregnant, adopting a child, or launching a new business venture. Estate planning tools, such as a last will and testament and a trust can protect your financial interests and those of your surviving family members. Since life is unpredictable, it’s best not to wait too long before addressing estate planning issues.

  • What Happens to Your Estate Plan During a Divorce?

    divorce law, divorce estate planning, divorce laws tracy Estate planning for residents of Tracy and Livermore should involve periodic updates when life circumstances change. The birth of a child, the death of a family member, and the decision to divorce are all circumstances that warrant changing one’s estate plan. Because estate planning is an intricate area of the law, it’s strongly recommended that individuals who are divorcing consult lawyers who handle estate planning matters.

    Create a New Will

    Now that your marriage has ended, it’s doubtful that you would want to leave your assets to your ex-spouse. You’ll also likely want to change your executor, if you previously designated your ex-spouse as your executor. Visit a lawyer to draw up a new last will and testament. Be sure to revoke your old will, either by literally tearing it up or by including a statement in the new will that revokes all previous wills.

    Designate Legal Guardians

    If you have minor children, you will need to designate a legal guardian for them in the event that you die before they turn 18 years of age. Be aware that unless the other parent has also passed on, the court is likely to award full custody to him or her. However, it’s still advisable to name a legal guardian for your children just in case you and your ex-spouse die or your ex-spouse may be considered an unfit parent.

    Create a Trust

    Talk to your estate planning attorney about establishing a trust for your minor children. By setting up a trust, you can designate a trustee other than your ex-spouse to manage the funds until your children come of age. You can even set conditions on the distribution of money from the trust. For example, you may want your children to have access to money for college, but would prefer that they not have access to their full inheritance until they’re more mature. You can set up trust in accordance with these wishes.

    Check Your Life Insurance Policy

    If you previously named your ex-spouse as your beneficiary of your life insurance policy, you will need to change this information through the insurance company, not through your will. Call the life insurance carrier or visit its website for change of beneficiary forms.