Estate planning is essential to protecting your assets. Here at Law Office of James M. Blucker, we are equipped to handle your basic estate planning needs. It's also wise to set up a type of estate plan that fits your needs with the ultimate goal of avoiding probate court at all costs. We meet with you individually to assess what your wishes are. We have experience in creating wills, revocable living trusts, durable power of attorney for financial decisions, advanced health directive for health care decisions and creating what we call, a “final arrangement” checklist for your executor(s) and beneficiaries.
If no Will exists for one's estate in California, the assets will be distributed according to California probate law. If the deceased did not have a will or a trust, The Probate Court determines the wishes of the deceased, which debts are to be paid, and orders the distribution of property according to the decedents wishes or California law. By not having a will, this can create many complicated scenarios for a decedent's family which can take over a year to resolve. However, when a will is created, your will tells the Court who you want to appoint as your executor, whom your beneficiaries will be, and spelling out the exact authority you'd like your executor(s) to have.
Revocable Living Trusts
By creating a Living Trust, it allows estates to avoid Probate Court. You're able to include your real estate, financial bank accounts, stocks/bonds, etc. into a revocable living trust. Living trusts offer privacy, since Probate Court is a public forum, which can make it easier for a designated person to take over for you if you should become incapacitated and not able to make financial decisions on your own. A revocable living trust can also add further instructions; for example, to pay for a child's healthcare, education expenses, and living expenses up to a certain age to be determined by you. Similar to a Will, you would choose your own beneficiaries.
Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
A Durable Power of Attorney for Finances is a legal document that gives an individual the power to act on behalf of another individual. In California, the individual executing the document is referred to as the “principal” and the individual chosen to act on the principal's behalf is referred to as the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.” A Durable Power of Attorney for Finances in California allows the agent to make all financial decisions for the principal, even if the principal becomes incapacitated, unable to make financial decisions on their own.
Advanced Health Care Directive
An Advanced Health Care Directive allows an individual to choose an agent to make healthcare decisions on their behalf in the event they cannot. This allows the individual to also specify certain treatment preferences in the event that they cannot communicate decisions at a given time if they are incapacitated. By not having an Advanced Health Care Directive in place, this can create an undue burden with unintended consequences for not only yourself, but your loved ones as well.
However, by having an Advanced Health Care Directive in place, it allows you to specify ahead of time, the individual that you prefer to make health decisions for you if you are unable to. It's important to have an Advanced Health Care Directive that fully conforms to California Probate Code.
Here at Law Office of James M. Blucker, we also create an additional document that becomes a part of your estate plan. If not already stated within your Will, the “Final Arrangements” document gives your executor instructions what to do what your remains, details regarding burial or cremation, obituary and service arrangements and anything else that you'd like to include such as personal letters to beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries and alike.
Contact us today to inquire about your estate planning needs, we are help to you!