When it comes time to prepare Wills, people often make an array of excuses to put it off. They think it takes too long or is too costly or that they don’t own anything of value so there’s no point.
The truth of the matter is executing legal Wills ensures your estate is settled according to your wishes. The document also aids in expediting the probate process and is necessary for establishing legal guardianship for minor children.
Probate is required to reconcile estates regardless of how much or little a person owns. The process is needed to officially record the decedent’s death and legally transfer property to heirs.
The California probate process is notorious for taking many months to complete. The lengthy duration can cause assets to depreciate in value. In instances of small estates, probate administrators might be forced to sell assets to cover legal expenses and court fees.
The only way to guarantee heirs will receive inheritance gifts is to prepare a Will or establish a trust. Individuals can transfer ownership of property to the trust to avoid probate.
In essence, trusts serve the same purpose as probate Wills, but make estate settlement much easier and faster. A Trustee is designated to reconcile the estate and distribute inheritance gifts to heirs and beneficiaries.
Individuals can create a “pour over” Will to bequeath property that isn’t included in the trust. This often includes general gifts such as household belongings, clothing, knick-knacks, and items that have sentimental value.
The easiest approach to putting affairs in order is to retain services of an estate planning law firm such as Craton and Switzer. Experts can guide you through the process and explain the advantages and drawbacks of various estate planning strategies.
Prior to meeting with lawyers it’s beneficial to make a list of questions, as well as give consideration to the following:
- What type of property do you own and what is the value?
- Do you own property in another state?
- Do you own a business that will be passed along to family members or business partners?
- If you are a parent or guardian of minor aged children who will become their legal guardian in the event of your death?
- Do you need to setup a child trust fund for minor children?
- Who do you want to receive your personal belongings and financial assets when you die?
- Do you have life insurance policies? If so, who will receive the proceeds?
- If your estate is probated, have you established a financial account to cover costs of outstanding debts and probate expenses?
Certainly, estate planning requires some time. But it’s worth the effort to ensure your legacy is preserved and easily passed along to loved ones.
Anyone who has ever had to settle an estate without a last will and testament will tell you it is a stressful and frustrating experience. Don’t put your family through that. Instead, get in touch with an estate planning law firm and put together your life plan.
We invite you to explore our blog to learn more about Wills, trusts, business succession, retirement planning, and more. If you are a California resident in need of estate planning services give us a call at 562-628-5533.