Estate Planning Attorney in California

Why Estate Planning in

California is Important

Estate planning is a proactive and strategic approach to managing your assets, affairs, and health during your lifetime and after your passing. Probably the easiest way to understand why it is so important to have an estate plan is to consider the alternative: not having one when you become incapacitated or die.

It is reassuring when you can plan for the future and ensure the security of your loved ones in California, especially in the event something happens to you. This is what we call estate planning, and it isn't something that a select few do, but something we should all do because it's about our own health and security just as much as it is about assets and family members.

At Greensides Law, a Professional Corporation, our estate planning attorney in Santa Clara County is here to guide you through the intricacies of estate planning. Whether you have a complex estate or a modest one, we provide personalized solutions to ensure that your legacy is preserved and your loved ones are taken care of. Contact us today at (408) 660-8050 to schedule a telephone or online appointment.

Consequences of Incapacity

Without an Estate Plan

If you become incapacitated due to an illness or another health condition and do not have an estate plan, your treatment preferences or financial matters may not be handled in the manner you would have wanted. 

For example, what if the illness has led to you being in a coma and the prognosis is not good? In such a situation, you might prefer not to be resuscitated if your health turned for the worst. Family members, however, tell doctors to save your life at all costs. If you had had an advance directive or medical power of attorney, which would have been part of a comprehensive estate plan, your wishes would have been honored. Without it, the doctors look to a spouse, another family member, or a court-appointed conservator to determine what to do, and they may decide based on their own personal wishes rather than yours.

At the same time, what if you become incapacitated due to an illness like cancer, and the treatment or therapy makes it hard for you to manage your business or pay your bills? An estate plan can make sure you have a power of attorney or business succession plan established to proactively address these types of situations. 

Consequences of Dying

Without an Estate Plan

If you die without an estate plan, which would have included a last will and testament, you die "intestate."  As such, your assets are distributed according to state law, which means not you but your state's intestate succession laws determine the order of priority for distributing assets among surviving family members. What this also means is that a beloved charity or loved non-family member will not receive any of your assets – even if you had promised them something. On the other hand, if no heirs are found, assets may escheat, or revert, to the state.

Dying without an estate plan also causes delays in the distribution of your assets because your estate must go through probate. It increases the potential for challenges and fighting among family members, leading to potential legal battles. All of this is time-consuming and costly. 

Further, if you have minor children or an adult child with special needs, dying intestate leads to uncertainty as to who will be appointed the administrator of your estate and what will happen to your children. Much of the latter will be up to the court to decide.

Finally, intestacy may lead to increased tax liabilities for your heirs, as distribution may not be optimized for tax efficiency. 

Should You Consider

an Estate Plan in California?

Knowing that the consequences of dying intestate are serious, who does an estate plan benefit? If you answer affirmatively to any of the below questions, you should contact our estate planning attorney in California. Regardless of how you answer, it never hurts to get questions about estate plans answered.

  1. Do you have assets?  Estate planning allows you to dictate how your assets will be distributed after your death, ensuring that your loved ones receive their intended inheritances and minimizing potential conflicts among beneficiaries. Assets include anything from a house, other real estate, cash, bank accounts, investment accounts, stocks, digital assets, life insurance, collectibles (e.g., art or antiques), cars, furniture, and more.
  2. Do you want to minimize estate taxes?  Through strategic estate planning, you can employ legal techniques to minimize estate taxes, preserving more of your wealth for future generations.
  3. Do you have children?  Estate planning enables you to designate guardians for your minor children, ensuring their care and upbringing are entrusted to the individuals you choose.  Estate planning also enables you to help secure and protect the future of an adult child with special needs.
  4. Do you want to make healthcare decisions in the case you become incapacitated?  With comprehensive estate planning, you can establish advance healthcare directives and appoint a trusted individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
  5. Do you own a business?  For business owners, estate planning facilitates a smooth transition of business ownership and management, preserving the value you've built and securing the future of your enterprise.

Estate planning is essential for individuals of all ages and asset levels. It is not just for the wealthy. Whether you have substantial assets, a blended family, dependents with special needs, or charitable intentions, estate planning provides the framework to protect your interests and ensure that your wishes are carried out.

Benefits of Estate Planning

The benefits resulting from an estate plan in California directly relate to why it is important to create and maintain an estate plan. Optimal benefits, however, manifest when you engage our estate planning attorney. We will discuss your wishes to develop an estate plan suited for you.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Customized Solutions:  Our estate planning attorney tailors your estate plan to your needs, goals, and family dynamics, ensuring that your wishes are accurately reflected in legally binding documents.
  • Probate Avoidance:  With proper estate planning, we can help minimize or avoid the lengthy and costly probate process, allowing for the timely distribution of assets to beneficiaries.
  • Privacy Preservation:  By utilizing certain estate planning techniques, you can maintain the privacy of your estate, keeping personal and financial matters confidential.
  • Contingency Planning:  We assist in developing contingency plans for unforeseen events such as incapacity, ensuring that someone you trust is empowered to make decisions on your behalf.

Typical Estate Planning Documents

Comprehensive estate planning involves various legal documents, tailored to address your specific needs. Some of the more common types of estate plan documents include:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Advance Health Care Directives
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Beneficiary Designations
  • Conservatorship Designations
  • Guardianship designations
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Funeral Instructions
  • Bank or financial accounts
  • Retirement Accounts and Annuities
  • Titles and Property Deeds
  • Business succession plan 

Though these are common types of documents that will make up your estate plan, you will want to ensure that your estate plan mirrors those changes.

Why Hire Our

Estate Planning Attorney in California

Some people attempt to use DIY (do it yourself) estate planning using online templates.  Though these may work for some, online templates can be confusing and do not offer the insight that our estate planning attorney in California offers.

At Greensides Law, P.C., we have in-depth knowledge of estate laws.  We stay updated with changes that may affect your estate plan and ensure compliance with legal requirements.  Likewise, we provide advice based on your circumstances, goals, and family dynamics. We are comfortable navigating complex scenarios, addressing potential challenges, and crafting solutions.

DIY estate planning often leads to errors, inaccuracies, and omissions that can have significant consequences, we help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure that your documents are legally sound and enforceable. We also collaborate with financial advisors, accountants, and other professionals as needed.  We can coordinate efforts and ensure all aspects of your plan work together.

By entrusting your estate planning with us, you gain peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be carried out, and your loved ones will be protected. You can focus on living your life confidently, knowing that your legacy is secure.

Contact our Estate Planning Attorney in Santa Clara County Today

Planning for your future and the welfare of your loved ones in California is a responsibility that should not be overlooked. At Greensides Law, P.C., our estate planning attorney is here to guide you through the complexities of estate planning, so that your wishes are honored.

Contact us today by using the online form or calling us at (408) 660-8050 to schedule an appointment.  We will help you secure your legacy and gain peace of mind knowing that your estate is in trusted hands.