Revocable Living Trust
A Revocable Living Trust will protect your loved ones and your hard earned assets from expensive Probate court proceedings when you die. It also helps to protect you if you become disabled. The only court proceeding that is worse to go through than a death probate is a "Conservatorship". A Living trust will keep your information private and make asset transfer upon your death easier, faster, and much less expensive than going to court. A Revocable Living Trust Estate Plan is the best plan for saving time, money and headaches for you and your loved ones.
The average cost of a nursing home in California is $10,298.00 per month, and every year the cost goes up! The high cost of the nursing home is the biggest threat to your estate. Planning ahead for this threat with a Medi-Cal pre-plan is essential to saving your hard earned assets. If it is too late to pre-plan, and you are facing a crisis where a nursing home is inevitable, utilizing current California and Federal law, I can still save the bulk of your estate assets and, if you are married, help protect your spouse. Larger Estates who want to prepare for the nursing home can greatly benefit from an Irrevocable Income Only Trust. I am one of the few attorney's in California who successfully used this type of trust.
After Death Trust Administration
California law must be followed when owner of a trust dies. The Trustee of the trust needs a lawyer to protect themselves from accusations and to ensure a smooth trust administration. Trust administration is basically a private probate. Every problem that the Probate court would solve must be solved during the trust administration by the trustee of the trust. The bills need to be paid and the assets transferred to the beneficiaries. The trustee is responsible to keep an accurate account of actions taken on behalf of the trust. Trusts are easier, faster and less expensive than a Probate, but are not so easy they can be administered without the help of an attorney.
Advance Health Care Directive
An Advance Health Care Directive is California's Health Care Power of Attorney. This document will name someone to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. Having this document will help prevent an expensive and time consuming Probate Court procedure called "Conservatorship over Health Care Decisions". It also governs decisions regarding removal of life support.
Financial Power of Attorney
A Financial Power of Attorney gives permission to someone to make financial decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. This document helps prevent an expensive and time consuming Probate Court procedure called "Conservatorship of the Estate". When your estate plan consists of a Living Trust, an Advance Health Care Directive, and a Financial Power of Attorney, every decision you could possibly need can be made without going to court.
Last Will and Testament / Small Estates
Not everyone needs a Living Trust. A Last Will and Testament will often serve their needs. It is important for a person to put their last wishes in writing. Not everyone owns a home or has assets valued more than $166,625.00. For smaller estates, there are procedures for transferring assets of a decedent that do not require a full blown probate. It is important to have a written last will to take advantage of these procedures. Also, it is crucial to know a person's wishes who is going to need Medi-Cal to pay for a nursing home.
Estate Plan Update
Just like a car needs an oil change, Living Trusts need regular updating. Every year the state and federal laws change and your family and financial situation may change. When the trust is not updated, it becomes "stale" and does not function as well as when you first signed it. Frequently I review trusts prepared by non-attorneys or even other attorney's and they need to be fixed. Whatever your situation, I offer a free consultation to review your trust. You only pay if changes or updates need to be made.
Complete Estate Plan
Only with a complete Estate Planning Portfolio prepared by an experienced Estate Planning Attorney can you be sure to achieve your goals. The documents in a complete portfolio include: Revocable Living Trust, Pour-Over Will, Financial Powers of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directives, HIPAA Waiver, Living Will, Certification of Trust, Funding Documents, and Trust Schedule(s). For larger estates, or for those who own rental properties, an Irrevocable Trust is also necessary to achieve peace of mind.