Contra Costa California Wills and Trust Lawyers
Even with life expectancy climbing into the 80s, there comes a time when you need to think about what will happen when you inevitably pass away. For many people, that time is when they reach 50, 60, or 65. For many Contra Costa residents, the time to begin estate planning begins much sooner. The moment you become a parent, you need to plan for the possibility an accident or an illness may take your life before your child becomes an adult. If you acquire a home, a business, or any other valuable assets; you need to think about how you can ensure the people you love obtain your property – instead of the state of California.
If you have a child with special needs, you need to discuss how a trust agreement can ensure the child can receive both your income and income from federal or government programs. Trusts can help protect your assets from creditors. Trusts are often used to avoid the cost of probate and the months it takes to transfer your property through the probate process.
At JS Abrams Law, we help seniors, parents, and people of all financial levels prepare the correct legal documents to protect their loved ones, to choose the people they want to run their business when they die, and to provide the financial care and personal care your children must have when you die. Our lawyers take the time to understand your current financial status, your family status, and your goals. We explain your options and guide you to experienced will and trust solutions for your unique situation.
What are the reasons Contra Costa residents prepare a will?
If you have assets of value, a will allows you to choose which people or organizations will own those assets when you die. Wills allow you to appoint a guardian for your children. Wills allow you to choose the person who will manage your estate. Without a will, those choices are made by a California judge who doesn’t know you or your family. The main reasons for preparing a will are:
- Determine who gets your assets. You work hard to acquire a home, a business, bank accounts, retirement accounts, treasured possessions, a car, and other assets. Most people want their spouse and children to receive their assets. Wills can give all your assets to your spouse and children. Wills can also give your assets to any other relative (if you don’t have a spouse or children or even if you do) or friend you choose – in any proportions you want. You can even give some of your assets to your college, a charity, or a nonprofit of your choice.
- Appoint a guardian for your minor children. Children need someone loving to care for them, educate them, nurture them, and discipline them. If you and your spouse or the child’s other parent die before your child turns 18, a will lets you pick the person who will be the child’s (or children’s) guardian. The guardian can be a family member or people you know who care for your children like parents of your children’s friends.
- Choose an executor. You should select a person to manage your estate who’s good at finances and knows how to resolve disputes. Most executors work with an experienced Contra Costa wills and trust lawyer.
- Determine what happens to your business. Unless you transfer your business through a partnership agreement, stocks that name beneficiaries, or other legal means – a will allows you to:
- Inform your executor if the business should be sold or if the ownership interest should be transferred
- Determine how the business will be valued if it is sold
- Determine who you want to run the business when you’re gone
After you prepare your will, it’s generally a good idea to prepare a new will or a codicil (amendment) to the will if you have a new family member, acquire new valuable assets, or just want to change one of the key terms.
What are Contra Costa trust documents?
Trusts are a way to provide funds for the people or organizations you care about while you’re alive. The main people and conditions of a trust are:
- The settlor of the trust – the person who transfers part of his/her assets
- The beneficiary of the trust – the person who will receive income or principal from the trust
- The trustee – the person chosen to manage the trust for you
- The transfer of assets – you need to place some of your assets into the trust
- The length of the trust – the time when the trust will terminate
- What happens when the trust terminates – who gets the amount that remains in the trust
What types of trusts do Contra Costa residents use?
Trusts are often created to provide for children, for anyone who has a disability, or for the benefit of nonprofits and charities. Trusts may also be created to ensure a quick transfer of assets to your spouse when you die. Some of the reasons our Contra Costa wills and trust attorneys may recommend that you create a trust are:
- Trusts for minors. Parents often create this type of trust so that a child, grandchild, or other relative has funds for their education and health. These trusts usually provide that the trustee manages the trust until the minor turns 18, 21, or graduates from high school or college.
- Special needs trust. The federal and state government sometimes condition financial aid on a lack of income of the person who needs the aid. A special needs trust is a way of ensuring the person qualifies for the financial aid and still receives financial help from the trust.
- A lifetime trust. Here, the trustee pays for the needs of the trust beneficiary (often someone in ill health) until that person dies.
- An express trust. This standard trust provides that the trust funds can be used for the reasons set forth in the trust for a specific time period.
- Pour-over trusts. This type of trust is combined with will planning to ensure that the assets of the first spouse to die pass into the trust so the assets don’t have to go through probate.
Trusts are also used to reduce taxes, protect assets from creditors, and ensure personal injury victims have funds for their medical needs.
At JS Abrams Law, our Contra Costa wills and trust lawyers discuss your estate planning goals and requirements. We prepare the proper documents for your needs. To discuss how wills and trusts can provide financial and personal security for your loved ones, call us at 818-330-4515 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.