Many people mistakenly believe that estate planning is only for “rich people.” The fact is, every family can benefit from an estate plan, one created by attorneys who focus on this area of the law. Why? For starters, without your own estate plan, the state of California will control how your assets are distributed after you pass away. The State is not concerned about making sure your wishes are carried out with regard to who receives your assets, and when they receive them. Likewise, the Sate is not interested in minimizing costs, estate taxes, or streamlining the distribution of your assets.
Another reason to have a plan of your own is to make sure that you will be able to choose the person or people who can make financial and/or health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. The same holds true for an end-of-life situation. Without advanced directives, someone might petition the court for control of your medical care and assets. This could be someone you would not want to make important decisions on your behalf.
At the Asset Protection & Elder Law Center, we offer estate planning services to help you accomplish all of the following goals and more.
Children’s Protection Planning
Have you ever thought about what would happen to your kids if something tragic happened to you and/or your spouse? Did you know that without proper documentation, Child Protective Services is obligated to step in and protect your children? Often, they take your kids out of the house and into the hands of strangers until a court appoints a guardian in your place? Not to mention, without proper planning, your children would not have access to your assets or finances without going through an expensive and time-consuming process to unfreeze your funds. Your assets could be distributed outright to your children before they are mature enough to handle such a great responsibility, ultimately putting your inheritance at risk of immediate loss.
Fortunately, these situations are avoidable with estate planning, as parents can name guardians for their kids, and set up specific legal documentation to ensure their children are protected physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually when they are gone—in the way they want, by the people they want.
Time is of the essence when planning to protect small children. Tragedy can strike at any moment and parents must take immediate action to ensure their kids are cared for according to their wishes should something happen to them. The process may seem daunting, but it is easier than ever with the help of a California guardianship attorney. Simply call 714-966-2646 to set up your Vision & Design Meeting (normally a $750 value) at no cost to you with the lawyers at the Asset Protection & Elder Law Center today.
Providing for Incapacity
Most people wrongfully assume that a will can provide for their family if they become incapacitated in an accident, or that their spouse or adult children can automatically make medical and financial decisions if they were unable to speak on their own behalf. Yet neither is true, as a will does not become effective until a person dies and both a spouse and adult children would have to petition a court to declare you “legally incompetent” before gaining the right to handle your medical or financial affairs. In addition, this process can be lengthy, costly and stressful. Battling a court to unfreeze essential funds or to gain the right to make important quality of life and medical decisions on your behalf is the last thing any family wants, or needs, in a time of tragedy.
The good news is that by setting up a power of attorney for health (also known as an Advanced Health Care Directive), you can easily appoint someone you trust to handle your affairs and immediately make decisions regarding the medical care you would want (or not want) if you were incapacitated in an accident. Simply contact our trusted advisors at 714-966-2646 to get started with the process.
Avoiding Probate in California
Probate is unavoidable in California if you simply rely on a will to pass on your assets to your children or loved ones—especially if you own any real property or have assets totaling over $150,000. For those unfamiliar with the processes, probate is an expensive and time consuming proceeding in which the California probate court will verify that your will is indeed valid, identify and inventory your property, appraise your property, pay debts and taxes and distribute the remaining property as the will directs. Worst of all, it’s completely open to the public. That means every con artist in town is privy to the name of your loved-ones and the amount of money you’ve left behind at the time of your death.
In essence, the California probate court, not you, has complete control of the asset distribution process until the estate has been settled and distributed. That means if you are married and have children, your family may not have immediate access to the finances necessary to cover living expenses while your estate is tied up for weeks or even months in court. California is known to have one of the most complex probate courts in the nation.
With proper planning, probate in California can be avoided entirely, and your family can receive your assets in a manner that is quick, inexpensive, and private during an otherwise stressful and emotional time. To learn more, call our Orange County probate attorneys now at 714-966-2646.
Planning for Death Taxes
Believe it or not, Uncle Sam will review your estate one more time following your death to determine what you owe under the federal estate tax. The amount of this tax depends on the size of your estate and how well your estate plan works. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies a California trusts and estates lawyer can implement to avoid the death tax on your behalf. For more information on how to work with a lawyer to proactively shield your inheritance from the death tax at the end of your life, call our California estate planning law firm now at 714-966-2646 for immediate assistance.
Nursing Home and Medicaid Planning
With effective nursing home and Medicaid Planning in California, you don’t have to sacrifice the assets you worked so hard for over the years to cover your healthcare expenses or qualify for Medicaid assistance. Instead, our California Medi-Cal attorneys can help you protect your assets and bank accounts from nursing homes or other health-care facilities using the following legal tools/ resources:
- Guided permissible transfers
- Specialized trusts
- Care contracts
- MediCal-Medicaid Grats
- Intrafamily qualified annuity agreements
- Intrafamily promissory note sale transaction contracts
- Special needs and supplemental needs trusts
Timing is critical when planning ahead for nursing home stays or end-of-life care. The earlier you plan, the more assets we can help you protect for the benefit of your surviving loved ones. To get started with your nursing home or Medi-Cal planning in California, call our elder attorneys at 714-966-2646.
California Charitable Bequests or Planned Giving
Proper estate planning will allow you to provide for the charitable organization or cause of your choice during your lifetime or after your death. You can also set up your giving plan to draw a stream of income for life, earn a higher investment yield or receive a reduction of your capital gains/estate taxes. To learn more about charitable giving in California, call our estate planning attorneys now at 714-966-2646.
Without proper planning, your business and personal assets are vulnerable to loss from fraud, accidents, bad business deals, or frivolous lawsuits. The California asset protection attorneys at the Asset Protection & Elder Law Center can help you shield your wealth from common financial risks such as:
- Professional malpractice liability
- Personal liability of corporate officers and directors
- Lawsuits by former business partners
- Personal injury suffered on your premises
- Personal injury resulting form a motor vehicle accident
- Liability as guarantor for the debts of another
- Liability arising from misconduct
We understand that insurance alone will not adequately protect you from the threats listed above. That is why our California asset protection firm works directly with clients to implement proven legally-sound strategies that will help preserve their wealth and safeguard their assets. Such strategies often include the use of special trusts, business entities and other legal agreements.
Our California asset protection lawyers will also protect your finances, real property, and other assets in such a way as to minimize their exposure to potential creditors. When your wealth is shielded by a trust or other entity, creditors will be dissuaded by the fact that you own very little assets under your personal or business name. We also assist clients needing asset protection in the following areas:
- Domestic and offshore trusts
- Domestic and offshore and domestic business entity formation
- Exempt asset protections under state law
- Negotiation and preparation of pre and post-marital agreements
Considering our many contacts in the financial and banking industry, we are able to provide our clients with trustworthy sources to meet their needs, whether domestic or offshore. To speak with one of our California asset protection lawyers, call 714-966-2646.