What Is Probate?
After someone passes away in Tracy or Livermore, the probate process can begin. Probate is the process of filing a petition with the court to admit the will into probate or, in the absence of a will, appointing an estate administrator. When wills enter probate, they are publicly accessible. The decedent’s assets are inventoried and then the assets are transferred from the decedent to the heirs.
When you watch this video, you’ll hear a little more about probate and why some people might wish to avoid it. Since wills that enter into probate are publicly accessible, some people wish to avoid probate due to privacy concerns. It is also possible that the will may be contested. If you have any concerns about probate, a lawyer who handles estate planning cases can help you.
What Are the Components of a Complete Estate Plan?
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.
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 .
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.
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.
Factors to Consider in Estate and Financial Planning
Many individuals delay estate planning in Tracy because it involves end-of-life issues. However, regardless of your age or health, it’s always in your family’s best interests to consult an estate planning lawyer sooner, rather than later. Unexpected tragedies occur all too often; by dealing with these matters promptly, you can ensure that your family’s financial future is protected in the event of your passing. When you meet with an attorney to address matters such as your last will and testament, you’ll need to consider the following factors.
Evaluate Your Financial Situation
After scheduling a meeting with an estate planning lawyer, it’s time to gather together important financial documents. Review all of your financial information to determine the total value of your assets, and your current and anticipated cash flow. Compare your cash flow and assets to your total liabilities to determine your net worth. Consider other factors that may affect your finances in the future, such as the rising cost of living, your retirement or your spouse’s retirement, and unexpected, yet significant expenses, such as those related to a major illness. By understanding your particular financial situation, your estate planning lawyer can help you develop a sound financial plan for the future and for your heirs.
Consider Your Beneficiaries’ Needs
When you create a will with the help of your estate planning attorney, you’ll designate beneficiaries for your assets . You’ll also designate beneficiaries for your life insurance policy, retirement accounts, and similar accounts. It’s entirely your decision as to how to divide your estate among your family members, friends, or charitable organizations. However, when designating beneficiaries, you should consider their future needs and their spending habits. Many individuals earmark funds in a trust to cover specific expenditures, such as college tuition or special needs expenses.
Reduce Your Taxable Estate
Estate and income taxes can take a significant portion of the assets you allot to your beneficiaries. Your estate planning lawyer can help you develop efficient strategies to minimize tax obligations. You might also consider purchasing a life insurance policy that will cover the estate tax your heirs will owe.
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