Frequently Asked Questions
- What is an estate?
An estate is your wealth. It is what you own regardless of the value and amount. It includes personal and real property, including your home, money, bank accounts, life insurance, and properties owned by a trust which you have control.
- What is estate planning?
Upon the death of a person, his or her property shall pass to another person. In California, competent persons are allowed by law to choose the manner on how their assets shall be distributed after death subject to some exceptions provided in law. This right is essentially Estate Planning. Estate planning has also come to include allowing others to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make certain decisions for yourself.
Estate planning can be a long, difficult, complex, and hard to execute legal process if not left to the expertise of legal professionals.
- What are the advantages of Estate Planning?
- Estate planning gives you control over your assets such as your home, investments, business, life insurance, employee benefits, and property in the event of your disability or death.
- Estate planning gives you the ability to state who you want to care for your minor children if something should happen to you.
- Estate planning provides a legal means to minimize estate taxes and attorney’s fees.
- Estate planning provides directions on your wishes regarding health care matters, funeral arrangements, and transfer of assets.
- Estate planning helps protect your children and spouse from lawsuits that may arise after your death.
- Estate planning avoids the lengthy probate proceedings and costs.
- What is probate?
In the absence of having a proper estate plan in place, there is a very good chance that your estate will likely undergo a long, public, court proceeding called a probate, even if you have a will.
The process includes:
- Proving the will that the will is genuine, not obtained fraudulently, and if the person who died (decedent) complied with the formalities for making a will.
- Gathering and collecting information on the assets of the decedent and having a valuation of those assets be determined.
- Payment of debts claimed by creditors of the decedent.
- Distribution of assets to the family, heirs, or other beneficiaries.
Probate proceeding can be expensive and put your assets on hold for prolonged periods before your family or beneficiaries can receive them from your estate.
Even if you have executed a will, there is a risk that your assets will require probate proceedings.
- What is a will?
A Will is commonly known as the Last Will and Testament. It is not the same as a “Living Will”. A Will is an estate planning device that enables you to:
- A Will gives you control on the transfer of your assets and allows you to list the beneficiaries of your property.
- A Will allows you to select your Executor. The Executor is the person who will carry out your instructions as provided in your will.
- A Will allows you to select a Guardian or Guardians for your children in case you and your spouse pass away.
- A Will can be used to establish a trust for your beneficiaries.
- A Will can give you the opportunity to state and plan your funeral arrangements.
- A Will becomes effective upon your death.
However, without the special provisions that should be included in the will which can only be achieved through estate planning, your wishes may not be properly carried out.
An experienced lawyer is a knowledgeable resource for you in including these provisions and provide you options in establishing your proper and effective Will.
- What is a trust?
A trust is a fiduciary relationship between three parties called the trustor, trustee and the beneficiary.
A trust is created by the trustor to transfer title to some or all of the property to a trustee, who then holds title to that property in trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
- What is trust administration?
Trust Administration is the process of distributing the property and the estate of a decedent, in accordance with his or her Trust. It involves the transfer of assets and property.
A Trust created by an experienced and qualified legal professional can save members of your family from disputes, avoid probate and save on taxes.
- What is a living trust?
In estate planning, a trust can also be referred to as a “Living Trust”, a “Family Trust” or a “Revocable trust”. It is an estate planning device that is set up by the trustor during his lifetime to provide for the manner on how his or her assets should be handled or distributed to his or her beneficiaries in the event of disability or death.
A properly created Trust protects and administers assets for certain purposes during the lifetime of the trustor and after the death of the trustor. Revocable Trust provisions can often be modified or canceled anytime by the trustor during his or her lifetime.
Trusts are often used as legal means to avoid probate.
- What are the advantages of a living trust?
- A Living Trust helps avoid attorney’s probate fees and probate costs.
- A Living Trust can be relatively inexpensive and easy to set up.
- A Living Trust is an effective device to utilize available estate tax exemptions and estate tax credits.
- A Living Trust is a versatile mode of estate planning which can be modified or cancelled at any time during the lifetime of the trustor.
- A Living Trust can avoid the court system’s control of assets and minor’s inheritances.
- A Living Trust can simplify the transfer of assets to family members, heirs, and beneficiaries which is usually incurred during the tedious and long probate proceedings.
- A Living Trust is valid in all states in the United States.
- A Living Trust is a completely private document. Unlike probate and a Living Trust does not usually become part of government records.
- A Living Trust can also provide help for individuals to administer their belongings if a trustor becomes incapacitated.
- A Living Trust can cover all assets not otherwise exempt from probate.
- What is a Pour-Over Will?
A Pour-Over Will is used with a Living Trust. In the event you forget to transfer an asset to your Living Trust, a “Pour-Over Will” is the Will which will include the forgotten asset into your Living Trust.
The “forgotten” asset, after going through probate, will then be distributed as part of your Living Trust.
Didn’t find the answer?
If you have a question and live or work in Orange County, Riverside County or San Bernardino County, contact us at (800) 501-9620 or use the contact form below