Best Contra Costa Estate Planning Lawyers
Seniors, parents, and any Contra Costa resident who has a home or significant assets should consider preparing a well – so they can decide who gets their property instead of the state of California. A will means you decide who raises your children instead of the state. Estate planning includes much more than will preparation. Trusts help you manage your assets for your family, charities, and others. Powers of attorney and medical directives provide control over financial and health decisions if you become ill or disabled.
The correct legal documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and medical directives help you choose which people will care for you while you’re alive, who will manage your estate, and who will provide the love and security your children need if both parents die while the children are still minors.
At JS Abrams Law, our Contra Costa estate planning lawyers help you understand what old-age and end-of-life decisions need to be considered. We help you prepare the correct legal documents so you can protect your family and those you care about. We also help prepare the correct documents to minimize conflicts about your end-of-life care and what happens to your assets after you die.
What are the main reasons Contra Costa residents prepare a last will and testament?
There are several key reasons you need a will:
- To ensure your property goes to the right people. With a will, you designate exactly who gets your home, business, bank accounts, personal property, and treasured possessions. Many people give their property to their spouse and children. With a will, you can also give some money to your university, church, or other charity or nonprofit. You can provide for any person who has special needs. You can clarify that stepchildren are or aren’t included. If you don’t have a will, the state of California decides who gets your property after all the bills are paid.
- To select a guardian for your child. If you have minor children and the other parent dies before you, your children won’t have anyone to care for them. A will is the document that lets you appoint a sibling, a parent, an aunt, or friends who will be the guardian for the children. Appointing a guardian in a will saves the time and expense of a relative filing a petition with the court – or worse, having the state place your children in foster care.
- To choose the executor/executrix of your estate. You want someone you trust, someone who understands finances, and someone who can resolve disputes to manage your estate. Managing your estate means ensuring all the estate assets are identified, collected, and distributed. It means resolving any claims against the estate.
If you have a retail store, a service business, or any type of business – a will provides a way for you to determine who will own and run the business.
Experienced Contra Costa estate planning lawyers help reduce the odds of a will contest. Wills can be contested in Contra Costa probate court on the grounds that:
- The person preparing the will didn’t have the proper testamentary capacity
- The will was executed due to the undue influence of someone who was in a trusted relationship with the testator.
- The testator lacked testamentary capacity to make a will
- The will wasn’t properly executed
- There was a subsequent will or codicil
For example, we may consider having a video of the signing to show your competence and/or having a doctor provide a physical and mental examination.
How a Contra Costa estate planning lawyer can help avoid probate
There are many advantages to avoiding probate. It normally takes several months to manage an estate. This means the heirs, the people entitled to the estate through the will, must wait those months before they can enjoy the assets. Probate can be expensive. If you have great wealth, the transfer of the assets through probate may result in federal estate taxes being due.
Some of the ways our lawyers help the probate of your assets include:
- Retitling assets. If assets are titled as tenants of the entirety or joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, then when one owner dies – the spouse or the joint tenant becomes the direct owner of the property.
- Payable on death (POD) accounts. You can ensure that your accounts are paid directly to a named beneficiary by naming that person as the POD beneficiary of your account.
- Life insurance proceeds. If you name a specific person (or people) as beneficiaries on your life insurance policies, the proceeds are paid to that person/people. Otherwise, the life insurance proceeds pass through your estate – through probate.
- Trust documents. Trusts allow you to transfer control some of your assets for the benefit of people or organizations you care about. Pour-over trusts and wills are a way to ensure your assets pass to a trust for your spouse when you die. Trusts are used for other purposes too such as protecting assets from creditors, providing for children and others will special needs, to provide for your minor children, and other reasons.
What is a power of attorney?
California authorizes financial and personal powers of attorney. A power of attorney is a legal document where you give someone the authority to handle your financial or personal affairs if you become ill or incapacitated. At JS Abrams Law, our Contra Costa estate planning lawyer will explain when you should consider preparing a power of attorney and what type of power of attorney form you should choose – a standard power of attorney or a durable power of attorney.
Medical powers of attorneys and advanced healthcare directives?
A healthcare power of attorney is a legal document where you select someone you trust to make medical decisions for you during your life such as which doctors to see and which treatments to take.
Health care directives are forms that direct hospitals and other health providers as to what life-threatening and end-of-life treatments they should or shouldn’t provide for you.
How does estate planning help with your Contra Costa business?
If you spend a good part of your life developing and growing your food business, a motel, a technology business, or any type of business – you want to ensure that the people you love either get the best possible value for the business or that the people you trust can run the business – so they can earn a living. Some businesses can be transferred through stock ownership or partnership agreements. If you own your own business or have an interest in business, a will or other legal documents (such as trusts and life insurance) can help direct:
- Who owns the business when you die
- Who runs the business when you die
- How the value of the business will be determined
Death tax planning in Contra Costa.
The good news is that California doesn’t tax your assets when you die. The federal government may tax your estate if the value of the estate is large – $11.7 million in 2021.
At JS Abrams Law, our Contra Costa estate planning lawyers explain the various ways estate planning can provide financial security for the people you care about, help protect your finances and your health while you’re alive, and help you choose who manages your affairs. To discuss your estate planning concerns, call us at 818-330-4515 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment.