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Top Reasons to Avoid Probate 

Top Reasons to Avoid Probate 

You may have heard that skipping probate has many benefits. An estate plan allows you to layout your wishes so that your family members, loved ones, medical team, and the state will know what care you will receive and how you want your estate to be taken care of after your death. However, when you create an estate plan in a way that specifically lets you avoid the probate process, it can save a lot of time and money. There are several reasons why avoiding probate is preferred, such as the ones explained below. 

It Can Be a Long Process 

One of the most frustrating parts of probate is that it can be extremely time-consuming. Probate is not done in just a matter of weeks. It often takes several months to complete depending on the type of assets you have, the size of your estate, and other factors. However, the process can last for years in some cases. The court needs to carefully review your assets before they distribute them, so your beneficiaries may not have access to them for a long time. If your will or other parts of your estate plan are being contested, it can take even longer to complete. 

Your Information Will be on Public Record

In addition to being a lengthy process, probate is also a public one, as a probate lawyer like one at Klenk Law can tell you. Since probate is overseen by the courts, information about your estate and how it is managed will be placed on the public record so that anyone can see it. This includes the type of accounts you have, the types of debt you have, and the nature of your assets. Skipping probate will allow you to retain your privacy so that the details of your estate will not be disclosed to the public. 

Excessive Fees 

Another downside to the probate process is that it can be quite expensive. There are probate fees that you must pay and they can reach thousands of dollars. These fees will go to the court, and they can take a large portion of your estate. If you have debts or other expenses you have to cover, probate can cause even more financial strain. 

There are legal services available if you need assistance navigating probate and developing an estate plan that works for you. Do you need assistance figuring out a way to avoid the probate process, or reach out to a trusted probate lawyer right away? 

family silhouette estate planning lawyer

What Life Events Trigger a Need to Change My Estate Plan?

 “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans,” is an old John Lennon quote and one that many people can relate to. There are many life events that take place – both happy and sad – that can have a significant impact on your life the way you know it, not only personally but also financially.

When these events take place, there are certain things that may need to be readdressed. One of these is your estate plan. The following are some common life events that could necessitate changes to the plans you have put in place for your family’s future. A Sacramento, CA estate planning attorney can help.

Marriage and Divorce

A change in your marital status – whether you go from single to married, married to divorced, or divorced to remarried – is an important time to pick up the phone and contact your attorney to update your estate plan. This is especially important in cases of divorce or remarriage.

Once you are divorced, you will want to make sure your ex’s name is removed as a beneficiary from everything (unless there are certain stipulations in your divorce decree that prohibit you from doing so). This can include life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial accounts. A divorce decree does not negate your ex listed as a beneficiary. There have been many tragic cases where a person failed to make the change and when they died, their ex received the funds, not their current spouse.

Remarriages often involve blended families so establishing a solid estate plan that protects your children can be complex. This is why you should always consult with a Sacramento, CA estate planning attorney.

Birth and Adoption

Welcoming a new child to the family is one of the most glorious experiences parents have. But along with all that happiness, it is also important to consider what would happen to your child if you were no longer here to care for them. If something should happen to you and your spouse, you want to ensure that the party or parties you would want to raise your child are named their legal guardian. Without legal documentation in place, there is no guarantee this would happen. In some situations, your child could even end up in foster care.

If you are divorced from your child’s other parent, you also want to make sure that whatever financial security you leave for your child is protected. If you are concerned your ex would use these funds for other purposes if they had access to them, an attorney can help set up a trust for your child and even name the person you choose as trustee.

Tax Law Changes

Although not all changes in federal or state tax laws warrant an update or change to your estate plan, there are some instances where a change in the law can have significant tax implications on your estate.

Since it is hard to keep track of all these changes, having your attorney review your estate plan on a regular basis can ensure that your estate plan is benefitting from any tax advantages and that you and your heir will be protected in the event of tax laws that could be detrimental.

Call Our Office Today

If you have experienced any life events, especially if it has been some time since you put your estate plan in place, contact Yee Law Group PC to schedule a free consultation with a skilled Sacramento, CA estate planning attorney, and let us help make sure your family’s future is protected.

easter egg hunt estate planning lawyer

Is Your Estate Plan an Adult Easter Egg Hunt?

As parents, one of the most enjoyable memories we can create during this time of the year is to watch our children’s excitement as they find the hidden treasures of the annual Easter egg hunt and their screams of delight when they open up each egg to find chocolates, trinkets, and other goodies inside.

What parents never want to do is to keep that egg hunting tradition years later, when they have passed, and their now-adult children have to search high and low for important estate planning documents. The grief of losing a parent can be overwhelming enough without the added burden of searching through drawers and cabinets trying to locate critical information and documents your children will need to settle your estate.

The following tips can ensure that not only are your documents safely protected, but also easily accessible when the time comes they are needed.

Hard-Copy Documents

Many documents, such as wills, trust papers, life insurance policies, power of attorney documents, and medical directives will all have an original hard copy document that you needed to sign. There are several places where you can store these documents in order to make it easy for your family access to them:

  • Fireproof and waterproof safe in your home. Make sure that you let your loved ones know where the safe is located, as well as the location of the key or combination to open the safe.
  • Safe-deposit box at a bank. Although this will keep your documents safe and secure, your loved ones may have a difficult time accessing the box without a court order that allows them to do so. Consider having your adult child or other trusted person as a co-signer on the box in order to avoid this problem.
  • Your estate planning attorney’s office. This is just one more benefit to having a qualified attorney helping you with preparing your estate plan. Your attorney will also have all these documents in your file and all your family will have to do is make a phone call to that attorney in order to obtain the documents they need.

Storing Documents Digitally

Many people also store their important documents in digital formats. Some options for digital storage include loading the documents onto an external hard or USB drive and keeping in a safe location, using a document management software system, or a cloud-based system. If you do decide to use one of these options, it is also important to let your loved ones know what your passwords are for these services and/or where you have stored the external hard drive.

If you would like more information about estate planning, contact Yee Law Group to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a skilled Sacramento estate planning attorney.

How to Deal with Grief as the Executor of an Estate

If your deceased family member named you as the executor of his or her estate, you have a lot on your plate. From beginning the probate process to contacting beneficiaries, this can all be overwhelming. If you were close to the deceased, you’re also likely going through a great deal of grief. It can be difficult to administer an estate and grieve at the same time.

Here are some different ways to deal with grief as the executor of an estate.

Acknowledge Your Grief

There is nothing wrong about recognizing your grief. In fact, acknowledging and working through your grief will go a long way in helping you heal. Just because you are responsible for probating an estate, does not mean that you can’t time to deal with your emotions. You may experience a wide range of emotions, from sadness to anger. Allow yourself to cry. If you bottle up your emotions, it may start to affect your physical and mental health.

Get Assistance from a Professional

Probating an estate can be very time-consuming and complex. It can be even more overwhelming when you are dealing with the death of a loved one. That is why it is a wise move to hire an experienced probate lawyer. He or she will take care of the paperwork and other duties so that you can have a chance to grieve.

Don’t Hesitate to Take a Break

Grief can be unpredictable. One moment you are smiling and crying your eyes out the next. When you’re overwhelmed with grief, don’t be afraid to take a break from your probate duties. Go for a walk, lie down and read a book or go see a movie. Allowing yourself to escape every once in a while is beneficial for your mental health.

Lean on Others for Help

Dealing with the probate process can be stressful, even if you have a probate lawyer on your side. Never be afraid to ask your family member for help. For instance, you might ask one family member to make arrangements with a funeral home and another family member to send out death notices. Your family is likely more than willing to help. 

If you need assistance with the probate process, you may want to get in touch with a probate lawyer, like one from Yee Law Group, P.C.

spring time estate planning family

Spring Cleaning: Time to Clean Up Your Estate Plan!

The arrival of spring in California often signals a time to “clean house” for many families. But it’s not just a good time to clean and organize your home and plant new flower beds and shrubbery in your yard; it can also be a good time to tackle your “financial house,” including taking a good look at what type of estate plan – if any – you have in place.

Unfortunately, many people don’t have an estate plan ready in the event something happens to them. A Sacramento estate planning attorney understands that many people don’t like to discuss or even think about their death, but this can cause serious issues in their families when they do die because there are no legal instructions about how their estate should be distributed. Instead of being able to lean and comfort each other, the decedent’s family is often torn apart with fighting and legal battles over who gets what.

How to Avoid Inheritance Disputes

There are steps you can take to help minimize the chances that your survivors will fight over the assets you leave behind. It is important you set up an estate plan before an illness or old age inhibits your ability to do so. The best time to draft and implement these documents – and guarantee that they cannot be questioned based on whether or not you were of sound mind and body – is when you are healthy.

Keep in mind that you can change your estate plans anytime you wish. Your estate planning attorney will likely also advise you to update your plans should you have a major life event (such as the birth of a child or divorce), as well as when the government enacts any type of estate or tax law changes.

Once you do have an estate plan in place, it is important for you to have a discussion about what your wishes are with your family. You want to make sure that each member clearly understands how you want your estate to be divided. This can be helpful in warding off any potential issues after you die if all members understand why you made the decisions you did.

Estate Planning Spring Cleaning

Even if you do have an estate plan in place, it is a good idea to periodically look it over to make sure that what you have in place is still valid. There are many life events that occur that can drastically change what you want to happen to your assets to what you have in your current estate plan. Some of the more common types of life events that can necessitate a change in your estate plan include:

  • Death of a spouse
  • Death of an heir
  • Birth of a child
  • Divorce
  • Marriage
  • Moved to another state
  • Changes in financial circumstances
  • Changes in tax laws
  • A child is no longer a minor
  • A change of fiduciary (i.e. guardian, trustee, executor) is needed

Contact Our Firm Today

If you would like to speak with a dedicated Sacramento estate planning attorney about dusting off and reevaluating your estate plan, contact Yee Law Group today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Guardian for Your Children

If you have minor children, it’s important to appoint a guardian for them in your estate plan. This way, if you should die unexpectedly, your children would at least be taken care of. However, selecting the right guardian can be quite tricky. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when picking a guardian for your kids.

Selecting Someone Without Financial Resources

As you probably already know, taking care of children is very expensive. From food and clothes to medical care, kids need a lot. That is why it is important to select a guardian who is financially stable. You should feel confident that this person can afford to give your children the life that they deserve.

Choosing Someone to Appease Your Family

The last thing you want to do is select a certain guardian because you feel pressured to do so. For example, your family might expect you to choose your sister as the guardian, but you don’t feel like she is the right fit. If you don’t think a person will follow the wishes you have for your children, don’t choose them.

Appointing Only One Guardian

Even if you think you have chosen the best possible person to serve as a guardian for your children, you should appoint at least one or two other alternatives. People can experience many changes in their lives. For example, your first choice may move far away or fall ill and can no longer take care of your children. If you have backups, you know that someone will look after your kids.

Not Considering the Guardian’s Age

Many people want to appoint their own parents as guardians of their children. However, this might be the best idea. If your parents are elderly and your children are very small, your parents may not be able to deal with the physical demands of raising kids. It may be a better option to choose a younger guardian.

Leaving Out Instruction on How Your Children Are Raised

If you want the guardian to raise your children just like you would have, it’s essential to provide clear instruction. For example, you may want your kids to attend church or follow a certain diet. No details are too small.

If you need help with your estate plan, contact an estate planning lawyer, like one from Yee Law Group.

How to Appoint the Right Executor

One of the most important aspects of establishing your estate plan is choosing the right executor. This person will pay your remaining debts, maintain your property and distribute your assets to the proper heirs. Since this job is a huge responsibility, you must be selective in who you choose. Here are some tips for appointing the right executor.

Choose Someone Who Is Financially Stable

Before you appoint someone as executor, find out about the person’s financial standing. Does this person have a good credit score? Has he or she ever filed for bankruptcy? People with major financial issues may not be able to get bonded. If the bonding company thinks that an executor is a bad financial risk, the court may not allow the person to serve.

Select a Communicative Person

The executor you choose should also possess excellent communication skills. He or she will have to provide frequent updates to beneficiaries about the status of the will. The executor should be able to clearly explain everything that is happening and return voicemails and messages in a timely manner.

Appoint an Organized Person

There’s a lot that goes into settling an estate. From contacting creditors to filling out paperwork, an executor has a lot on his or her plate. That’s why it’s important to select an executor who is organized. This person should be able to juggle several tasks without getting flustered.

Pick Someone Trustworthy

Your executor will be in charge of all your assets after you’re gone. You need to be sure that this person handles your assets properly and distribute them how you wish. If there is any concern that a person won’t follow through with your wishes, you should not name that person as your executor. 

Choose Someone Relatively Young

Age is another important factor to consider in an executor. Ideally, you’ll want to choose someone younger than you because he or she is likely to outlive you.

Get Approval

Even if you think a certain person would be a great executor, it doesn’t mean that he or she is up for the task. Being an executor is a huge responsibility and not everyone has the time or desire to do the job. As such, you should ask the person for approval before officially naming him or her as your executor.

If you need help with your estate plan, contact an estate planning lawyer, like one from Yee Law Group.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Creating a Trust

Establishing a trust can come with many advantages. The estate planning document can help your beneficiaries avoid the probate process when you are gone and minimize the risk of someone challenging your estate in court. A trust can also assist you in the event of incapacitation when you’re still alive. However, if you don’t establish a trust correctly, it may not do what you intend it to do.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when creating a trust.

Selecting the Wrong Trustee

One of the first steps establishing a trust is choosing the appropriate trustee. This person will be responsible for managing your trust assets after you are gone. As such, you should appoint someone you know will act in the best interests of the trust and its beneficiaries. If you think that selecting a family member for the job would create too much conflict, consider appointing a professional advisor to serve as the trustee.

Failing to Properly Fund Your Trust

A trust can’t function properly if it is not funded. If you want certain assets to avoid the probate process and go directly to your beneficiaries after you are gone, you must name them in your trust.

Assuming Your Trust is Protected from Creditors

While your trust may be safe from probate, it is not protected from creditors. If you owe debt when you die, your creditors may go after the assets in your trust.

Trying to Create a Trust Without Professional Help

Trusts are complex legal documents, so they are more expensive to establish than wills. That’s why some people decide to go the DIY route to save money. Unfortunately, trying to create a trust on your own can backfire. Trusts contain complicated legal terminology that the average person may not understand. If you don’t use the correct language in your trust, it might not be considered valid in court.

Forgetting to Review Your Trust Periodically

Once people establish a trust, they might think that their job is done. However, it is necessary for most people to update their trusts multiple times throughout their life. Whenever you experience a major life change, like a divorce or birth of a child, give your trust another look.

If you need assistance with your trust, you may want to contact a trust attorney, like one from Yee Law Group, P.C. soon.

What Are the Advantages of Setting Up a Trust?

More and more people are establishing trusts as part of their estate plans. A trust essentially keeps the assets of the trust creator in a trust to benefit the person during his or her lifetime. When the trust creator dies, the trustee will distribute the assets to the designated beneficiaries.

Here are the advantages of setting up a trust.

A Trust Can Help You Avoid Probate

Probate is the legal process in which a deceased person’s estate is distributed to appropriate beneficiaries. Sometimes the probate process can take a while to complete, which can frustrate your heirs. If you want your heirs to receive their inheritances relatively quickly, consider establishing a trust. Assets that are held in a trust don’t have to go through probate.

A Trust Can Help You Maintain Privacy

A will is a public record, so anyone will be able to see it. If you’re a private person, this might bother you. That’s another reason to create a trust. Trusts are considered private documents. Nobody will be able to search public records later on to find out information about the assets in your estate.

A Trust Is Difficult to Challenge in Court

One of the last things you want is for someone to challenge your estate plan in court. It will slow down the distribution process and cost the estate more money. If you establish a trust, it will be much more difficult to challenge in court. Since you can manage a trust throughout your lifetime, it will be difficult to prove that you were improperly influenced by a third party.

A Trust Can Save Money

A trust initially takes more money to establish than a will. It’s a more complicated legal document and an attorney may charge you more money. However, a trust may save more money in the long run. Your beneficiaries can avoid probate costs after your death.

A Trust Can Provide for Children with Special Needs

If you have a child with special needs, you want to make sure that he or she is taken care of after you’re gone. A trust can do just that. It can pay for your child’s healthcare and other needs. This will give you peace of mind.

If you need assistance establishing a trust, get in touch with a trust attorney, like one from Yee Law Group, P.C.

What Does It Mean to Plan Your Estate

Estate Planning Lawyer Roseville, CA

It’s not always easy looking into the future and predicting what will or won’t happen. And maybe you’re the type of person who “goes with the flow” and doesn’t do much planning. However, if you have a family or loved ones that you want to take care of in the future or if something happens to you, it might be the time to think twice about planning for your future. 

What is estate planning?

According to Investopedia, the definition of estate planning is defined as:

The preparation of tasks that serve to manage an individual’s asset base in the event of incapacitation or death. The planning includes the bequest of assets to heirs and the settlement of estate taxes. Most estate plans are set up with the help of an attorney experienced in estate law. 

This all might seem extremely overwhelming and you’d be right. Estate planning can become difficult to understand and navigate when it comes to your state laws and federal laws. But, you shouldn’t let that stop you from planning the future of your estate and assets. It’s an important tool for your future whether you consider you have a lot or a little to your name.

There is the common misconception that if you aren’t rich then there’s no need to plan your estate. If you’re having that thought in your head right now, you need to get it out of your mind immediately. Your estate includes everything that you own. It doesn’t matter the size of it, it’s everything that you have worked your entire life for it should be worth taking the time to plan for what happens to it. 

Estate planning will be the process of designating who will receive your assets and handle any responsibilities after your death or incapacitation. Having a plan ensures that your beneficiaries receive assets that can minimize estate tax, gift tax, income tax, and other taxes, which would be extremely helpful to your loved ones and you. 

Steps to take when considering estate planning

Take an inventory of your stuff. You’ll be surprised about everything that you own and what is both tangible and intangible assets.

Tangible assets can include:

  • Homes, land, other real estates
  • Vehicles like cars, motorcycles, or boats
  • Collectibles like coins, art, antiques, or trading cards
  • Personal possessions

Intangible assets can include:

  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
  • Life insurance policies
  • Retirement plans
  • Health savings accounts
  • Ownership in a business
  1. Understand your family’s needs and how you can protect your family after you’re gone.
  2. Establish a plan that includes important legal directives like a trust, medical care, financial power of attorney, or limited power of attorney, 
  3. Review your beneficiaries
  4. Take note of your state’s estate tax laws to minimize estate and inheritance taxes.

If you have gone over these few steps then you’ve probably realized that you might need more help to establish a plan then it might be time to consult with a professional like an estate planning lawyer in Roseville CA from a law firm like Yee Law Group, P.C. can help you with the process. 

Having a plan is the best thing that you can do for yourself and your loved ones. You don’t want to hesitate when it comes to making a plan.