Wondering what Estate Planning is or how it can benefit you??? Read on....


Proper Estate Planning will allow you to plan for the future. It is a way for you to make decisions about yourself and your assets instead of leaving those decisions to someone else. A proper estate plan should ensure that (1) you make your own decisions concerning your future; (2) you make the decision as to how your property is to be distributed and (3) you minimize or eliminate estate taxes, court interference and costs and expenses of probate. A proper estate plan will:

Ensure that you are the one who will provide instructions for your care in the event you become incapacitated or disabled;
Ensure that you provide security and protection for your loved ones;
Enable you to control and manage your assets during your lifetime;
Enable you to provide explicit instructions as to how your assets are to be utilized and distributed after your death;
Enable you to maintain your financial affairs private and confidential after your death;
Enable you to avoid probate and its associated costs;
Enable you to take advantage of minimizing any estate tax liability that you may have;
Become effective even if you move to or own property in another state.

Many people are mistaken that estate planning is only applicable to wealthy individuals. If you do not properly plan your estate, you will be allowing future decisions to be made on your behalf by a court nominated individual if you become incapacitated or disabled. This would include health care decisions and decisions concerning the management of your assets. Moreover, California law will determine how and to whom your property and assets will be distributed. This process is known as “intestate succession”. These are all decisions that should and easily could be made by you.

A proper estate plan will allow you to maintain the affairs and settlement of your estate privately and confidentially. The death of a loved one leaves family grieving and distressed. Family should not have to undergo the added burden of having to go through probate. Probate will diminish your estate and tie your assets up. Your loved ones will have the misfortune of seeing a lifetime of accumulated assets diminished by the costs and expenses of probate.

For individuals with larger estates, proper estate planning also allows for the minimization of estate tax liability and wealth preservation. This can be accomplished by an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney knowledgeable about estate taxes.

By having a properly drafted estate plan, you should be able to maintain control of your assets, plan for the possibility of your own disability, determine whom you want to receive your assets, how you want them to receive it and when, avoid the agonizing experience of probate together with the associated costs, determine who you want to manage your assets and make important health care decisions on your behalf, settle and distribute your assets privately, efficiently and quickly and minimize your estate tax liability. The relevant cost of having an estate plan is small when compared to the alternative.

Although death or disability is not something that we like to think about, the grief experienced by family members when a loved one passes makes it tough enough, but often family must deal with other changes. Relationships often change, such as when a surviving spouse has less interaction and contact with the deceased spouse’s children from a prior marriage. Confusion may result between family members, such as how to handle the deceased’s assets and final wishes. This can also strain once solid relationships.

The difficulties experienced by family members are not limited to death. When a loved one becomes incapacitated or disabled, family members are often left making difficult decisions. Such situations leave family members searching for answers to these decisions without guidance from the disabled or incapacitated loved one. These decisions are made more easily when the incapacitated person has left instructions as to how these decisions ought to be made.

Where both parents die leaving minor children and no estate plan, the children’s future, care and custody are left to the courts. The courts can appoint a legal guardian, who may not be in the best interests of the children or which would have been favored by the parents. This could be easily rectified with a proper estate plan whereby the parents nominate a guardian to care for and maintain custody over the children. The death of both parents is a traumatic experience for minor children, making it preferable that the person nominated to act as a guardian be one acceptable by the parents.

Where both parents die leaving minor children and no estate plan, the children’s future, care and custody are left to the courts. The courts can appoint a legal guardian, who may not be in the best interests of the children or which would have been favored by the parents. This could be easily rectified with a proper estate plan whereby the parents nominate a guardian to care for and maintain custody over the children. The death of both parents is a traumatic experience for minor children, making it preferable that the person nominated to act as a guardian be one acceptable by the parents.

Children of divorced parents require further consideration. Usually, when one parent dies, the surviving spouse has full custody and control of the assets. A deceased parent desiring to assure that his or her children from a prior marriage are adequately provided for may wish to consider utilizing the benefits of a qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trust to accomplish this. For outright gifts to a minor child, the deceased spouse may wish to consider nominating someone other than the surviving spouse to manage and control the gift if the spouses do not agree on financial matters. Also, if the deceased parent desires that the custody of a child from a prior marriage should be with someone other than the surviving spouse, a proper estate plan is essential.

Estate Planning is not as simple as it may seem. That's why it's important to find an experienced attorney that can assist you with all of your needs. That means finding an attorney who will sit down with you, discuss your assets, your goals, and explain your options in simple terms with you. I've had many clients walk through my doors or call me asking about Estate Plans that were created by other attorneys and they have absolutely no idea what they signed or what the ramifications of those documents are. Meanwhile, they've spent thousands of dollars just having those papers drawn up. That tells me that people are hiring attorneys who are printing out forms and aren't taking the time to personalize the documents or most importantly, explain them to the clients. Another big problem I see is people buying documents off of document depots. Look, Estate Planning is not simple stuff and there are all sorts of consequences that go with it. You need to know how your taxes are affected by your estate plan and how well your assets are protected at a minimum. So please make sure to do your homework on the attorney you hire and also stay away from legal document depots. This is not the place to be skimping out on. At any rate, if there's anything we can help you with, feel free to call Daneshvar Law at (323) 850-5801.
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AuthorLaw Offices of Hasti Daneshvar