Estate planning is an area of the law that the average person knows very little about; yet, estate planning is also something that is very important to the average person. Not surprisingly, this disconnect creates problems. Surveys tell us that despite understanding the importance of having an estate plan in place, over half of all Americans do not have one. One of the most common reasons people give for not yet sitting down and creating an estate plan is the simple fact that the concept of estate planning is intimidating, sue in large part to the lack of knowledge about the subject matter. In an effort to take some of the mystery, and confusion, out of the subject of estate planning, a Los Angeles estate planning attorney has provided answer to five commonly asked estate planning questions.
- Don’t I need to wait until I have a substantial estate to start estate planning? This is one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding estate planning. No, you do not need a to amass a substantial estate in order to create an estate plan. In the absence of at least a basic estate plan, your estate will be probated using the California intestate succession laws. In essence, this means you are allowing the State of California to decide what happens to the assets you do For most people, this is not o.k. In addition, if you are the parent of a minor child, one of the most important things you can accomplish when you execute a Will is to nominate your choice for guardian of your child in the event one is ever needed.
- Why do I need more than a simple Last Will and Testament? A simple Will can accomplish the distribution of your estate assets; however, there are a number of estate planning goals it cannot For example, your Will cannot help with incapacity planning. If you were involved in a tragic accident tomorrow that caused your incapacity, who would take over control of your assets? Who would make decisions for you? Your Will cannot help answer those questions but a comprehensive estate plan can.
- Who should I appoint as the Executor of my Will and/or Trustee of my trust? One of the biggest mistakes people make when creating their estate plan is failing to take the time necessary to contemplate the appointment of an Executor and/or Trustee. People often just appoint a spouse/adult child/parent/friend without stopping to consider if the individual is really the right person for the job. Given the fact that the success, or failure, of your entire estate plan and/or trust agreement could depend on your choice of Executor/Trustee, it makes sense to take your time and appoint someone who has the skills, experience, and ability to succeed in the position.
- What is probate? Probate is the legal process that follows the death of an individual. During probate the decedent’s assets are identified and valued, creditors are allowed to file claims against the estate, and taxes owed by the estate are paid before the remaining assets are finally distributed to intended beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate.
- Why can’t I use DIY estate planning forms I find on the internet? In today’s electronic age it is tempting to turn to the internet for almost everything; however, using DIY legal forms you found on the internet for your estate plan is a huge mistake. Along with the fact that DIY estate planning forms are often riddled with errors and omissions that frequently result in litigation after the testator is gone, you do not have the ability to consult with an attorney about the use of the forms if you go the DIY route. The bottom line is that your estate plan is simply too important to leave it to chance by trying to cut corners with DIY forms.
For more information, please join us for one of our upcoming free seminars. If you have additional questions or concerns about conservatorship in the State of California, contact the Collins Law Firm by calling (310) 677-9787 0r Click Here reserve for a Free Estate Planning Workshop.