Estate Planning

Estate Planning refers to an array of legal documents that dictate how an individual’s assets (real and personal property) will be distributed upon his or her passing.

We specialize in Estate Planning for individuals in Los Angeles County, California – However estate planning in general is very similar throughout the United States as the idea of estate planning is primarily federal tax-savings driven. By creating certain legal documents, such a Trust, a well planned estate can save a decedent’s family and beneficiaries a sizable amount of money that would otherwise be payable in the form of an estate tax.

The second purpose of Estate Planning is to create a set of documents that will fully and succinctly carryout the wishes of the decedent after his or her passing.

A modern estate plan consists of the following documents:

—Living Revocable Trust. A Living Trust is an estate plan’s main document that contains all the details of distribution and which individuals are in charge of taking care of estate matters. The Trust also contains any tax saving mechanisms, amongst several other important provisions. Additionally, a Trust avoids a costly and lengthy probate process.

—Testamentary Will. Contrary to common belief, a Will does not dictate “who gets what” in a modern estate plan (That’s the Trust’s function). A modern Will has only two functions – First it states that any assets not already in the Trust are transfered to the Trust upon the decedent’s passing. Second, the Will designates Guardian’s and Conservator’s should a decedent have minor children.

—Power of Attorney. This document gives another individual, usually a spouse or close family member, the power to act on financial and personal matters on the signor’s behalf. Should the signor become disabled or incapacitated, a Power of Attorney allows another individual to act as if he or she was the signor. This is a great document to have as it adds flexibility to an estate, especially for married couples.

—Advanced Healthcare Directive. This is a medical document that dictates how you want to be treated should you become incapacitated and there is a question as to how to proceed medically. This optional document takes the power out of the hands of your spouse, family or doctor, and forces the hospital/institution to follow your predetermined wishes.

Several other documents and mechanisms are utilized according to an individual or families personalized needs. However, the above documents make up the bare-bones of any modern estate plan.