Best Alameda Estate Planning Lawyers
There are many reasons to consult with an estate planning lawyer. An experienced attorney will help provide financial security for your loved ones after you die. A respected lawyer will discuss who will raise your children if your daughters and sons are minors or have special needs. Estate planning can ensure that the people you love and the organizations you care about can use your assets immediately instead of waiting months. Skilled Alameda estate planning lawyers also help seniors prepare the correct legal documents so the people the seniors trust can take care of their financial or personal needs if the senior becomes physically or cognitively disabled.
If you don’t take the time to review what happens when you age or die, the state of California will decide who gets you property and who raises your children. When you speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer, you get the peace of mind of knowing your family and personal goals for your family and others will be as secure as possible.
At JS Abrams Law, our Alameda estate planning lawyers discuss your goals and estate planning needs. We explain the pros and cons of all relevant options. We explain how wills, trusts, and powers of attorney can help. Our lawyers help protect your decisions about your home, your business, and all your other personal assets. We also work to reduce the amount of federal estate taxes that may be due if you have a large estate.
Why do people use a last will and testament?
Seniors, parents, and anyone with significant assets should consider having a will for the following reasons:
Directing who receives your assets. A will is used to determine which people get which assets. Most testators (the person who prepares the will) leave their assets to their spouse and children. You can leave your assets to anyone you choose including parents, siblings, other family members, and friends. You can also leave your assets to nonprofits and charities such as your college or the local art museum. Wills are also used to clarify who gets your assets in case you divorce or remarry. You can leave specific items such as your prized collection or your paintings to a specific person.
Deciding who raises your children. This is a very important reason to have a will. Once you have your first child, you need to consider the possibility that you and your spouse or the co-parent may die before your children turn 18. A will is used to name the people who will raise your children if the parents are not alive. You should consult with the person you want to raise your kids when you prepare your will – to make sure they want the responsibility. If you don’t choose a guardian, a relative will need to seek court approval to act as the guardian. Otherwise, the children may become wards of the state.
Choosing who manages your estate. Testators want someone they trust, someone that has financial smarts, and someone who can resolve conflicts – to be the executor of the estate.
Selecting who will run any businesses. Wills can be used to direct whether your business should continue or be sold, who will run the business, and who is entitled to any sales proceeds if the business is sold.
A skilled Alameda estate planning lawyer will also take steps to reduce the possibility of a will contest – such as having a physician examine the testator if there is a question about his/her cognitive abilities. Wills can be contested in Alameda probate court on the grounds that:
The testator lacked testamentary capacity to make a will
The will was produced due to the undue influence of somebody in a confidential relationship with the testator
The legal formalities were not met
There’s another will or there’s a codicil to the will
How does a skilled Alameda probate lawyer help you avoid probate?
It’s usually to use your advantage (and your heirs’ advantage) to avoid probate. Probate is costly and time-consuming. If you have a large estate, there may be federal estate taxes. There are many ways an Alameda estate planning attorney can help you avoid probate of some or all of your assets:
- Retitling your assets. If you’re married, then your home and many of your other assets should be titled in the names of both spouses with the right of survivorship (also called tenants by the entirety). You can also jointly title (with a right of survivorship) assets with your children or just about anyone.
- Payable on death accounts. Many accounts, such as bank accounts, can be made payable to a specific person you name on the account.
- Life insurance proceeds. If you have a spouse and/or children, you should have as much life insurance as you can afford. It’s important to name a beneficiary on the life insurance policy – otherwise, the proceeds will pass through the estate.
Trust documents. These are legal documents that transfer control of your property while you are alive to a trustee on behalf of designated beneficiaries. A special type of trust (called a pour-over trust) is often used by spouses, in conjunction with their wills. Essentially the will provides that your assets are transferred to the trust you created – for the benefit of your spouse – as soon as you die. Trusts are also used to reduce taxes, protect assets from creditors, and for your children. Special needs trusts help maximize the benefits your child obtains through your trust and through government programs.
What are powers of attorney?
California authorizes financial and personal powers of attorney that give someone you trust authority to manage your financial and personal affairs if you become incapacitated for any reason. Your Alameda estate planning lawyer can explain the difference between standard powers of attorney and durable powers of attorney.
What are medical powers of attorneys and advanced healthcare directives?
Healthcare powers of attorney enable a person you choose to make medical decisions for you while you’re alive.
Health care directives are used so that hospitals and health providers know what life-threatening and end-of-life treatments you should (or shouldn’t) have.
Business succession plans and estate planning in Alameda
If you have a restaurant, retail store, professional business, nonprofit business, or any other enterprise – you have at least two estate planning concerns:
- Who will own your business interests when you die
- Who will run the business when you’re gone
If you want a family member, a coworker, or anyone else to keep your business running – wills and business documents can ensure the business continues (instead of being sold) and who runs the business. If you want to sell the business, wills and other business documents can detail how the business will be valued, how it will be sold, and who receives the sales proceeds.
The documents you need vary depending on the type of business. Wills alone are often used for sole proprietorships. Partnership agreements and wills are used for partnerships. Wills and corporate bylaws are used for corporations. In addition, life insurance policies and other documents can also protect your business assets when you die.
Death tax planning in Alameda.
The federal government doesn’t tax your estate unless you have a large estate – $11.7 million in 2021. California doesn’t currently have an inheritance tax – unlike many other states.
At JS Abrams Law, our Alameda estate planning lawyers help you identify and value all your assets. We discuss who you want to have your assets, raise your children, and manage your estate. Once your goals are set, we prepare the correct documents for your family and business goals. To discuss your estate planning concerns, call us at 818-330-4515 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.