An estate plan is more than just a will or a trust. It’s not simply a matter of “who gets what.” Your estate plan should be customized to accomplish your goals and preferences in a variety of areas, including:
- Avoiding probate
- Protecting your assets
- Reducing tax burdens
- Guardianship of minor children
- Taking care of your surviving spouse
- Same-sex relationships
- Provisions for blended families
- Your end-of-life medical preferences
- Charitable contributions
- Provisions for your family pets
Having a complete estate plan gives you great peace of mind. Putting it all together on your own, however, can be overwhelming. That’s where the Hedtke Law Firm comes in. You won’t have to wonder if you covered everything, because estate planning is what we do. We’ve got you covered.
Our approach begins with good communication. At your initial consultation, we’ll have an in-depth conversation about your family circumstances, values, priorities and goals. It is our job and our privilege to learn about your life and create the estate plan that is best for you. Our comprehensive plans include pre-made arrangements in the event of your temporary incapacity, and your preferences for end-of-life issues such as dementia and life support decisions. We’ll show you how to protect your children’s inheritance, provide for family pets, make charitable gifts, and maximize the legacy you pass on to those you love.
Estate planning isn’t just for the wealthy. In fact, if you have limited means, it’s even more important to make sure your assets aren’t stuck in the court system for months and that they aren’t eaten away by taxes or fees that could have been avoided. In addition to stating who should receive your estate assets, you can also increase the value of what they receive by taking tax-reducing steps and creating trusts. If you have minor children, it is important to appoint a guardian for their care in the event you become unable to care for them, even temporarily.
Life is full of surprises. Marriages, divorces, births, deaths, financial status, health conditions, and family dynamics are all areas of change that can affect your estate plan. If you’ve already created a will or trust, that’s great. But when was the last time you looked at it? We encourage you to review your estate plan every couple of years and make sure it still aligns with your life. An estate plan review may identify assets that need to be transferred to your trust, people who should be added or removed, and more. If you live anywhere in Los Angeles County or the Inland Empire and want to learn more about creating your estate plan, contact the Hedtke Law Firm today.
Why do I Need an Estate Plan?
- In California the primary benefit of estate planning is avoiding the time and expense of transferring assets through a probate proceeding. Probate is the legal process required to transfer the assets of a person who passed away and had no estate plan or had only a will.
- Due to court crowding and California legal requirements, the average time it will take your beneficiaries to receive assets when the probate process must be used is one to two years. In many cases it takes three to five years.
- Plus, the attorney who handles the probate proceeding is paid on a percentage fee basis in probate court. This means that for a family with a million dollars in gross assets (no deduction for mortgage balances or other loans) that attorney’s fees will be a minimum of $25,000.
- In contrast, individuals who have an estate plan with a trust get to avoid probate and use the trust administration process which typically takes only six months to a year and typically costs just $5,000.
- There are many other reasons why it is very important to complete estate plans, such as making sure children don’t inherit assets when they are too young to make good life choices, avoiding Medi-Cal liens on real property, expressing your preferences in who should be involved in the management and distribution of assets, selecting a guardian for minor children, and avoiding gifting to individuals with physical or mental disabilities in a way that causes them harm (either by making it impossible or complicated for them to maintain eligibility for public benefits or by tasking them with the management of finances in an unrealistic manner).
- While inheritance tax issues are typically not an issue for individuals with less than $10 million dollars in assets, there are property tax basis issues and capital gains tax issues that may need to be addressed