An estate plan is a combination of documents that help you manage your affairs upon your death or incapacity. Having an estate plan means your loved ones will know your wishes and be able to manage your personal and financial affairs without the economic and emotional burden of court supervision.
MarvanLaw, A.P.C., ensures that your estate plan is properly drafted, executed, and administered. Due to our experience in post-death litigation, we always draft our estate plans with a focus on familial harmony. This experience helps minimize the threat of litigation among your heirs and beneficiaries after you pass away.
One of our core beliefs at MarvanLaw, A.P.C., is that a properly drafted estate plan is one of the best gifts you can give your family and friends. We are here to help you understand the elements of your estate plan and to create a plan that is tailored to your individual needs.
A properly drafted estate plan handles two important life events, death and incapacity. While each of the events are a bit morose, proper foresight minimizes the economic and emotional cost of these moments.
The most obvious purpose of an estate plan is the transfer of your assets to your beneficiaries upon your death. Establishing your clear wishes through a Last Will and Testament and/or a Revocable Trust avoids confusion amongst loved ones and allows you to dictate how and when your beneficiaries receive the assets you accrued during your life. MarvanLaw, A.P.C. counsels you about your beneficiary designations to help avoid conflict and establish clear contingency plans so that your assets pass to the individuals and/or institutions that reflect your wishes.
Another purpose of an estate plan is to ensure that you can pass your assets to you loved ones and charities in an efficient manner, avoiding taxes and the probate. At this juncture there is no California death tax. There is a Federal Estate tax. Proper planning ensures that your estate is not subject to an unnecessary Federal Estate Tax. Other taxes to consider are capital gains taxes and real property taxes. MarvanLaw, A.P.C. will help you understand each of these taxes in relation to your estate plan.
A properly drafted estate plan avoids Probate. Probate is a court supervised distribution of your estate to your heirs or beneficiaries. As with any court matter, the probate process is expensive and time consuming. Through the use of payable on death accounts, joint tenancy designations, and Revocable Trusts your estate should pass on to your beneficiaries without probate court involvement. MarvanLaw, A.P.C. helps you understand the probate process and how you avoid it.
Another purpose of an estate plan is the management of your personal needs and financial assets in the event of your incapacity. Through proper planning and the use of a Trust and Powers of Attorney your named agents and successor trustee(s) assume the management of your personal and financial affairs if you are incapable of handle your affairs due to incapacity. Through the establishment of these estate planning documents your named agents and trustee(s) are able take care of your needs without having to involve the court in a conservatorship action. Planning for your incapacity maximizes your economic resources for your long-term care without the unnecessary cost of a legal proceeding. A properly drafted Power of Attorney for Health Care, additionally, provides clear guidance for your loved ones regarding your end-of-life wishes, avoiding the emotional and economic expense of prolongated final days. MarvanLaw, A.P.C. counsels you about the necessity and propriety of a Trust and
Powers of Attorney to fulfill your wishes should you become incapacitated.
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that designates who should be the executor of your estate and sets forth the beneficiaries of your estate.
If you have children who are under the age of majority, your Last Will and Testament nominates the guardian for the child(ren). A Last Will and Testament may contain a testamentary trust for your beneficiaries, curtailing the beneficiaries’ immediate access to their bequests.
It is important to note that a Last Will and Testament does not prevent the necessity for probate administration of your estate after you pass away if your estate’s gross value is more than one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000.00). If your estate’s gross value exceeds one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000.00) then you should consider establishing a Revocable Trust to avoid the necessity of probate proceedings.
Even if you establish a Revocable Trust you should still execute a “Pour Over” Last Will and Testament. A “Pour Over” Last Will and Testament acts as a backstop for any assets not held by your Revocable Trust and contains the same beneficiaries and as your Revocable Trust.
A Revocable Trust is an estate planning tool recommended for individuals that own over one hundred fifty thousand ($150,000.00) in gross assets. While you are alive, all assets held by your Revocable Trust remain under your possession and control. When you pass away, your Trust, essentially, becomes the “owner” of your assets. Since the Revocable Trust is the legal title holder, it avoids the necessity of a court probate procedure. Upon your passing the Trustee of your Revocable Trust acts as the administrator of the assets and distributes the assets pursuant to the terms you set forth in the Revocable Trust.
One of the most important things is to make sure that your Revocable Trust is properly funded, meaning that your valuable assets are in the name of your Revocable Trust, not your individual name.
A Revocable Trust is, additionally, an important tax planning tool for married couples who own assets in excess of the Federal Estate Tax exclusion. Properly drafted, your Marital Trust utilizes the Federal Estate Tax Exclusion so that your family can keep the wealth in the family. Revocable Trusts allows for great flexibility in controlling the distribution of your assets by, potentially, creating sub-trusts once you pass away. These sub-trusts can protect your surviving spouse and ensure your children are protected, maintain the public benefits of special needs beneficiaries, insulate beneficiaries from their poor decisions, prevent untoward individuals from taking distributions from beneficiaries, and address specific matters unique to your special circumstances.
Another important aspect of a Revocable Trust is that it allows for efficient management of your affairs if and when you become incapacitated. Upon certification of your incapacity, your Successor Trustee assumes management of the assets held by your Revocable Trust; avoiding the necessity of court involvement. Even if court involvement is required, having a Revocable Trust often minimizes the expense of such court supervision.
A Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management is an important component of your estate plan. A Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management allows your named agent to manage your financial affairs while you are still living. Your Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Management is particularly important if you become incapacitated because your agent can manage your financial affairs without having to go to court. Your Durable Power of Attorney is only valid while you are alive and has no effect on your affairs after you pass away.
A Power of Attorney for Health Care is an important component of your estate plan. Your Power of Attorney for Health Care allows your nominated agent to handle to personal needsand medical affairs if you are incapacitated. Having a properly drafted Power of Attorney for Health Care avoids the necessity of court involvement if you become incapacitated. Your Power of Attorney for Health Care is only valid while you are alive and has no impact on your affairs after you pass away.
Your Advance Health Care Directive provides guidance to your loved ones regarding your end of life decisions. An Advance Health Directive is an important document because it communicates your wishes to loved ones who may rely on your written directive regarding how you wish to be treated during your final days. A properly drafted Advance Health Care Directive unequivocally supports your loved ones as they make important decisions and minimizes conflict regarding such decisions.