Best San Bernardino Estate Planning Lawyers
Every San Bernardino resident has dreams for the types of lives the people they love will lead when the resident dies. We can’t predict the future – but with skilled planning, we can help the people we love get off to a good financial start when our time comes. We can ensure our minor children are protected. Wills and trusts are the legal documents lawyers use that allow seniors, parents, and all adults decide what happens to their assets and who raises their minor children when they die.
Residents, as much as they exercise, watch their diet, and get regular health checkups can’t control when their body will start to falter as they age. An accident can change a life in an instant. A disease can sap you of your physical abilities and your cognitive abilities. The good news is that documents such as powers of attorney and healthcare directives can give you some control over your senior years – by appointing people you trust to handle your financial, personal, and medical affairs.
At JS Abrams Law, our San Bernardino estate planning lawyers advise people of all ages and all asset levels about how to plan for their old age and how to take steps to ensure the security of their family and others when they pass on. We listen to your concerns. We explain what events you need to think about. We review all the documents that can help you and your family. Our lawyers prepare the correct documents for your goals and your loved ones’ needs. We give you peace of mind.
What are the benefits of a last will and testament?
San Bernardino residents should consider preparing a last will and testament when they marry, if they have children, or if they have any assets of value. If you don’t have a will, the state of California decides what happens to your property and who raises your minor children if both parents are deceased. The advantages of having a will are:
- You decide who gets your home, bank accounts, retirement accounts, business, and personal assets. With a will you can give all your property to your spouse. You can give some to your spouse and leave some for your children. You can give some of your assets to parents, siblings, nephews, and other relatives if you like. You can give one child 2/3 of your estate and another child 1/3 if you think that the child getting less is already financially comfortable. You can leave some of your property to your university, to a local nonprofit, or any entity you like. It’s your money, your home, your valuables. You can do what you want with these assets – but only if you have a will.
- You decide who raises your children. Your spouse or co-parent will raise your children if you die first. If you’re the second parent to die (or if both parents die about the same time – such as in a car crash) then your children need someone to raise, shelter, feed, educate, and love them. If you have a will, you designate the family member or people you trust to raise your children – normally, after consulting with them first. If you don’t have a will, a family member needs to step forward and seek court approval to raise your children.
- You choose who manages your estates. With a will, you select an executor to identify, value, collect, and distribute all the assets that pass through probate. Testators, the people preparing a will, usually choose a family member they trust to handle these financial affairs. Testators can also choose a friend, a professional, or a business such as a bank to be the executor.
- Deciding what happens to your business. If you have a San Bernadino restaurant, retail business, service business, or any business – a will dictates whether the business will be sold for the benefit of your heirs or whether people you designate will own and run the business.
Our experienced San Bernardino estate planning lawyers help reduce the possibility of a will contest. Wills can be contested on the basis the testator lacked testamentary capacity, there was a later will or codicil, someone unduly pressured the testator, or the will was properly executed. We may advise the testator, depending on his/her health, to meet with a geriatric doctor who can certify you were in good mental health when you prepared your will.
How can San Bernardino residents avoid probate?
The probate process (from the time the will is approved or a personal representative is appointed – through the time the assets are approved for distribution) can take months or even longer. There are administrative costs for any property that passes through probate. There may be federal estate taxes if the estate is very large.
Our San Bernardino estate planning lawyers explain how the following methods can be used to avoid probate (so that your heirs can obtain their assets immediately):
- Titling your assets. Any property such as a home that is titled as tenants by the entirety (for spouses) or joint tenants with a right of survivorship passes directly to the other spouse/the survivor when you die.
- Payable on death accounts. Bank accounts and other accounts can be titled payable on death so that the funds are payable directly to the beneficiary named on the account. You must name a specific person.
- Life insurance proceeds. You should buy as much life insurance as you can reasonably afford. The proceeds should be payable to named beneficiaries – otherwise, the proceeds will pass through probate.
- Trust documents. These documents transfer your assets immediately to a trustee for the benefit of named beneficiaries. Trusts are used to avoid probate and for many other financial and caring reasons.
What are powers of attorney?
California authorizes financial and personal powers of attorney. A power of attorney (POA) provides that someone you trust will have the authority to make financial decisions (such as paying bills) or personal decisions such as what you have for dinner). The POA can be effective immediately or when you become physically or mentally incapacitated.
Medical powers of attorneys and advanced healthcare directives?
A medical power of attorney appoints someone to make medical decisions for you such as which doctors you see.
Hospitals and doctors use your health care directive to determine what end-of-life treatments they should administer.
Death tax planning in San Bernardino.
California doesn’t currently tax death benefits. The federal estate tax begins only if your net assets are $11.7 million if you die in 2021.
At JS Abrams Law, our San Bernardino estate planning lawyers discuss your family status and everyone (including organizations) you want to have some of your assets when you die. We review the qualities and responsibilities of a good guardian for your children. Our lawyers prepare the correct legal documents to secure your old age and protect your family. To discuss your estate planning concerns, call us at 818-330-4515 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment.