Estate Planning Lawyer Sacramento CA
An estate planning lawyer Sacramento CA trusts can tell you that an estate plan officially prepares a person’s assets in the event of his or her death. An estate plan is recommended for anyone who has assets that they intend to hand down. By creating an estate plan, a person is choosing which family members or organizations will receive a part of their assets. It is important that you develop an estate plan early while you are able to make informed decisions and communicate your wishes. You can exercise your legal rights so that the government or unauthorized individuals do not seize your assets. By consulting with an estate planning lawyer in Sacramento CA from Yee Law Group, we can help you make decisions regarding what to include in your last will and testament. We understand that the decision-making process is not easy, so we want to provide you the help you need to make an estate plan that addresses all your needs and topics important to you. We have been dedicated to serving the area for more than 40 years and take pride in being able to offer professional and compassionate counsel.
What Documents Are in an Estate Plan?
An estate plan may look different from person to person. What you decide to put in your estate plan depends on your individual preferences, values, medical needs, and other factors. When you are putting an estate plan together, you should consult with your loved ones and primary healthcare provider about what might be good to include. If you plan to designate beneficiaries or guardians, speak to them beforehand about your plans as well. There is no one standard estate plan structure that individuals must follow, but there are several important documents individuals may want to include as a starting point. Most commonly, the basic kinds of documents in an estate plan include wills, trusts, financial powers of attorney, living wills and list of beneficiaries.
Why Is Estate Planning Important?
When you meet with an estate planning lawyer Sacramento CA prefers, you will find that many people do not create an estate plan because they do not believe they have enough important assets, or believe these assets will automatically be handed down to family, children and loved ones. Many people believe that their estate will be taken care of correctly without a formal estate plan. However, if you do not write a will, your estate will be handled based on the state’s intestacy laws. The downside to this is that the wrong people can end up receiving your assets, and your estate could suffer higher estate taxes. If you want to make sure that your interests are preserved and prevent the government or other individuals from handling your assets in a way that you do not consent to, estate planning is the best way to put protections in place.
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What Belongings and Assets Should My Estate Plan Include?
Your estate is considered to be everything you own, in any location. This includes your cash, property, cars, jewelry, investments, insurance and other possessions. Your estate includes everything that you have accumulated in your lifetime, but it is of particular importance if you ever file for bankruptcy or once you pass away. Here are the most common forms of estate that your estate planning lawyer Sacramento CA relies on may have had people incorporate into their will:
- Your home and/or real estate
- A share of any joint accounts
- Business interests
- Value of retirement accounts
- Personal effects
- Property owned through a trust, which you manage
- Life insurance policies
- Belongings, treasures, art, cars, furniture, items of value or sentimentality
Should I List a Guardian for My Children?
Yes, your estate planning lawyer serving Sacramento CA will stress the importance of assigning a person or people to be appointed as guardians over your children if they are underaged. In designating a guardian for your children, you can voice your values and preferences regarding how they will be cared for, and also be aware of what legal authority the guardian has over your child. If a surviving parent lives with the children who are of minor age and has custody, he or she will become sole guardian. However, you can name at minimum one alternate person in case the primary guardian is not able to fulfill duty. You can also choose to name married couples as guardians, but you must list them separately.
When you are considering guardians it is important to think about factors such as the potential guardian’s lifestyle, values, parenting style, and whether they have commitments to other children. You want to choose a guardian who will be respectful of your wishes and can take on the responsibility and commitments that comes with legal guardianship. If your designated guardian or alternate guardian is unable to fulfill their roles, then a court order may be necessary to appoint a new one.
What Is Probate?
Our estate planning lawyer in Sacramento CA explains that probate is a court-managed process in which a deceased loved one’s assets are distributed by an executor or administrator. During the probate process, your will is legally recognized under the law. If your loved one drafts a proper trust, it is unlikely the court will need to intervene. The time it takes to complete probate can vary depending on the complexity of your estate.
Because each case varies in complexity, it’s important to reach out to an estate planning lawyer in Sacramento, CA to ensure the probate process goes as smoothly as possible for your loved ones after your death. Each probate process is unique depending on the situation, but usually entails the following steps:
- Filing a petition with the probate court: After your death, your loved ones and your estate planning lawyer will need to file a petition with the probate court. By filing a petition, your family is letting the court know that you have died, and it’s time to distribute your assets according to the instructions you left behind in your will.
- Notice of your passing: When you draft a will, you name heirs to receive portions of your estate. This means after your death, any heirs that have not been informed of your passing need to be informed as soon as possible. It’s typical for heirs to already know about your failing health, but every family is different, and some heirs are harder to reach than others.
- Appointing a representative: If you have not named an executor in your will, your family will have to petition the court to appoint one. An executor is responsible for how the instructions in a will are carried out, and an estate planning lawyer in Sacramento, CA, can ensure the right person gets this responsibility. Otherwise, the appointment can be challenged by other family members.
- Appraisal and inventory: Once the court has appointed an executor, it’s time to appraise your assets. This sometimes involves bringing in an outside specialist to ascribe a monetary value to all of your possessions – but in order to do so they’ll also have to track down a complete inventory of all the assets you own. This can be a time consuming process depending on how many assets you’re leaving behind.
- Paying debts: An estate includes assets – and debts. Any outstanding debt you may have had will need to be paid off during probate. Your creditors will need to be informed about your death before a suitable payment can be arranged. Sometimes, assets will have to be sold off to satisfy your debts.
- Selling assets: If necessary, assets will be sold off in order to raise money to pay off debts. It’s not always a part of the probate process, but it’s important to remember to do all you can to alleviate any outstanding debt so your family won’t have to deal with it after you’ve died.
- Paying estate taxes: As with anything else in life, estates are subject to tax as well. When you leave behind a considerable amount of money for your family, a portion of that money will be taxed. Federal estate taxes vary depending on how much money is left in the estate, and can reach up to 40%.
- Heirs and beneficiaries receive the rest: Finally, after all the other steps, what’s left of your estate goes to your beneficiaries. Probate is a long and challenging process, and what you intend to leave behind, and what is actually left behind can be completely different than what you’d expect.
Probate is a complicated process, but there are steps you can take to make sure it goes smoothly for your family and friends. Contact an estate planning lawyer in Sacramento, CA to learn more about probate, and how The Yee Law Group can help.
Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer Sacramento CA Knows for Experience
We can understand the sensitivity of creating a plan that will affect the future of your loved ones, as you designate beneficiaries and what they will each receive. We can help you create an estate plan with which you can feel confident. Contact an estate planning lawyer Sacramento CA regularly consults with today from Yee Law Group by calling 916-927-9001 to schedule your first consultation.
The Importance of Estate Planning
The Yee Law Group Sacramento CA estate planning lawyers will tell you that it’s a common misconception that developing an estate plan is only for the wealthy. They may assume that their assets are not worth enough or that an estate plan is not necessary because their income is not high enough. In fact, it’s essential for almost anyone to have an estate plan in place for when you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Having a clear plan in place can not only ensure that your family knows your wishes but mitigate the risk of much headache and heartache for loved ones. It can prevent any potential conflicts between family and the courts from occurring. It may require a lot of work and difficult decisions must be made, but almost anyone can benefit from it. The following are common questions asked by people who are in the process of estate planning:
Should I just create an estate plan on my own?
There are a number of online estate planning tools that allow people to develop their estate plan without the guidance of a Sacramento CA estate planning lawyer. However, these programs don’t often take into account your specific needs, in addition to tax laws within your state. Working with an estate planning lawyer based in Sacramento CA can help you reduce complications that may come with developing your own estate plan using a one size fits all software. The last thing you want is for one small mistake to render the will invalid. This not only can be costly for your estate but create significant problems for your family. Working with a Sacramento CA estate planning lawyer can greatly reduce this risk, help your heirs to retain as much of their inheritance as possible and provide you with the opportunity to create a customized estate plan.
Should I share the contents of my estate plan with loved ones?
The last thing any person wants is for their family to be left fighting over assets and final wishes. Because of this, it may be in your best interest to share certain components within your estate plan. Our Sacramento CA estate planning lawyer suggests speaking with those you would like to appoint as executor of your estate or guardian of your children, it may also be beneficial to speak with your loved ones. This can give your loved ones the opportunity to voice any concerns so that they can be resolved quickly. This can also give your family peace of mind in knowing that you have a clear plan in place for when the time comes.
What risks am I taking without an estate plan in place?
Our Sacramento CA estate planning lawyers want you to know that should you pass away without an estate plan, you will be considered to have died intestate. As a result, your estate will go into probate court, meaning that the court will make decisions over how your estate will be resolved. Without an estate plan, you run the risk of paying more taxes, increasing the risk of familial strife and losing the ability to make decisions over how you would like your final wishes carried out.
Why should I hire an estate planning lawyer?
Hiring a Sacramento, California estate planning lawyer to assist in the estate planning process is essential. They can ensure that your estate plan is clear, valid and leaves nothing up for discussion. Not only can this help protect your assets, but ensure that your assets go to the appropriate beneficiaries and that nothing is left out of your plan.
With the help of an estate planning lawyer serving Sacramento CA, the process of developing an estate plan doesn’t have to be as cumbersome as it’s often made out to be. Having a clear plan in place can not only protect your assets, but ensure that your final wishes are carried out in the way you would have liked. For more information about estate planning and how it may benefit you, contact The Yee Law Group to speak with an estate planning lawyer in Sacramento CA to schedule an appointment.