Cerritos Estate Planning Lawyer
Personalized Representation Informed by Over a Decade of Legal Experience
If you have questions about estate planning matters, from drafting a will to establishing a trust, Anyama Law Firm can help. We have been working with clients in California for over a decade, and as a small firm, we are more able to provide the personalized, one-on-one attention you need to build a strong estate plan. You are not just a client to us; we will work closely with you to strategize a good set of estate planning tools that adequately protect your assets and your family. We also provide Spanish-speaking services if you need them.
Schedule a free initial consultation with Anyama Law Firm to get started on your estate planning matters today.
Types of Estate Planning Tools
There are several options for transferring the estate after someone has passed away, and it is worth drafting up these documents in advance to make the process a lot easier for your loved ones (and to ensure you relinquish your assets where you wish to).
At a high level, your estate will be distributed in one of two ways – probate court or outside of probate court. Here are some examples when you might not need to go to court to transfer an estate:
- If a particular asset (e.g., retirement plan, life insurance policy, bank account) already has a named beneficiary, in which case that asset goes directly to the beneficiary
- If a house is owned by 2 or more people as joint tenants, the other owners have the right of survivorship (that is, they inherit the entire property in their name)
- If a real estate asset has a transfer-on-death deed (also called a “beneficiary deed”)
- If the property is included in a living trust (below)
Wills and Trusts
One way to guarantee the distribution of your assets is a will. Anyone 18 years or older in California and of sound mind may create a written and signed will. Note that the will must be witnessed by 2 persons who understand that the document is the testator’s (creator’s) will. A will can do things like:
- leave your property to specified people or organizations;
- name a trusted person to manage property left to any minor children;
- name a personal guardian to care for your minor children; and
- name an executor, the person entrusted with carrying out the terms of your will.
Wills go through probate and usually include a verification process. If you do not have a will in place, your property will be distributed according to state law, which usually entails an equal division among your heirs, including distant relatives.
A living trust is similar to a will in that it is a document you create while you are alive that names certain beneficiaries who will receive the trust property when you die. However, as opposed to a will, living trusts do not have to go through probate. Property left through a trust can be distributed directly to your beneficiaries almost immediately.
Keep in mind that you will still need to have a will even if you have a living trust. This is mainly to safeguard certain relationships, as you cannot use a trust to name a guardian for your minor children; only a will can designate guardians.
Another important estate planning tool you may be interested in is a power of attorney (POA), which gives someone you specify (called your agent) the legal authority to make financial, and even medical, decisions on your behalf in certain situations. California offers 3 types of POAs:
- General – the broadest kind of POA, gives your agent the right to handle a wide variety of financial matters for you
- Limited (Specific) – a very narrow POA that gives your agent the authority to act for you only in specific situations you list in the POA document (e.g., a real estate transaction while you are on a family vacation)
- Healthcare – if you become incapacitated, this gives your agent the right to make healthcare decisions on your behalf
You should specify when your POA will become effective. A general or limited POA can be durable, which means it will go into effect once you sign it and remain in effect until you destroy or revoke it. Alternatively, any of the above POAs can be “springing” POAs, which means they will take effect only at a certain time or under certain conditions. A healthcare POA is thus always a springing POA, as it only goes into effect once you become unwell.
There is a great variety of estate planning tools for different needs and situations, so it is best to consult an experienced estate planning lawyer for legal advice. Our firm will take a detailed look at your unique situation and provide informed, personalized guidance to help you plan accordingly for your future. It’s never too early to start on your estate plan or to amend it.
Get started today with Anyama Law Firm. Schedule your free initial consultation online.
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