Top Santa Clara Wills and Trust Lawyers
We’d all like to live forever. The reality though is that even with luck and great health care, living past 100 years of age is quite rare. If you consult with an experienced Santa Clara wills and trust lawyer, you can help ensure that your family and other people and organizations you care about will have a financially healthy future.
Wills are legal documents that direct what happens to your assets after you die. Trusts are legal documents that direct what happens to your assets now. Your lawyer will explain the pros and cons of both types of legal documents. In many cases, your lawyer will recommend both wills and trusts.
It’s best to speak with an experienced Santa Clara wills and trusts lawyer now. Making these decisions now will avoid any issues later in the event of death, due to accident or illness. Dementia, an increasing illness among the aging community, can often rob you of your ability to think and reason. Most Californians seek eldercare advice when they age, when they marry, when they have children, or when they acquire valuable assets.
Why do Santa Clara residents need a will?
When working with our Santa Clara wills and trust law firm, preparing a will provides the following benefits and protections:
- Wills designate which people and entities receive your assets. Many people who prepare wills have homes, cars, bank accounts, valuable personal possessions, retirement accounts, and possibly a business. If you don’t prepare a will, then the property goes to the people that are authorized to receive the property according to the intestate laws of California. The intestate laws normally provide that the heirs are your spouse and your children. If you want your parents, siblings, friends, or charitable organizations to get some of your property, you need a will. If you want to provide more to one child than your other children or less to one child, you need a will.
- Wills appoint an executor. A will is used to select the person or entity (such as a bank) that will manage your estate. A personal representative appointed in a will is called an executor. The executor determines what assets pass through the estate. The executor pays all the debts of the estates and the costs to administer the estate. Once all the bills are paid, the executor arranges to transfer the assets either directly to the heirs or by selling the assets and then distributing the proceeds. Executors also have the duty to try to resolve any will contests and any claims against the estate.
- Wills appoint the guardian of your children. This is a major reason for preparing a will. If both parents predecease a child or if the co-parent can’t take care of the child because of an incapacity – you need someone you trust to raise your children. A will is used to appoint the guardians for your children – the people who will feed, clothe, and love your children; the people who will ensure your children receive a good education and teach your children your core values.
- Wills are used to determine business succession issues. If you have a sole proprietorship for your restaurant, your professional business, or any other business – wills are used to determine:
- How the business is valued
- Whether the business will be sold
- Who will run the business if the business isn’t sold
Wills can also help if you have a partnership or corporate interest in a business.
Seasoned Santa Clara wills lawyers review all your assets and what you’d like to be done with those assets.
As a general rule, once you sign your wills, you should review them on a yearly basis to determine if any changes are needed – because you have new people in your life, a child has special needs, or your financial situation has changed substantially.
What do trusts consist of?
There are several basic parts of a trust agreement.
- The creator of the trust transfers some or all of his/property
- The property is transferred for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries such as children
- A person or entity (the trustee) is designated to manage the trust
- The trust should have a termination date at which time the principal (the amount left in the trust) is given to the beneficiary or to other designated people.
Why are trusts used in Santa Clara?
Santa Clara wills and trust lawyers recommend trusts for many reasons including the following:
- Trusts for minors. This type of trust provides that minors, usually your children, will have the funds they need for their education and health needs until they reach a specific age – such as 18 or 21. The trustee makes the decisions about what education and health needs are necessary. When the child reaches the set age limit (such as 18 or 21), the balance of the trust is distributed to that child (now an adult).
- Special needs trusts. These trusts set aside money for a child or an adult who has special needs such as the need for funds to manage a disability. Special needs trusts are usually created if the person is receiving government benefits. Some government programs disqualify a person if he/she has too much money. By using a special needs trust, the beneficiary can receive both the government benefits and the trust income.
- An express trust. This is a trust that can be used for any reason provided there is one named beneficiary and the trust terminates at a specific time.
- Lifetime trusts. Here, the trustee manages the trust for the lifetime of the beneficiary. When the beneficiary dies, the balance of the trust is paid to a person or entity (such as a nonprofit or charity) designated in the trust.
- Pour-over trusts. This type of trust is normally used in conjunction with a will. The combination of pour-over trust and will is usually used by married couples to avoid death taxes. Essentially, each spouse creates a lifetime trust which is funded with the assets of their estate when the first spouse dies. The surviving spouse is the beneficiary of the trust.
Other trust types include:
- Generation-skipping trusts – to save on estate taxes
- Personal injury trusts – to ensure medical bills for an injury victim are paid
- Protective trusts are used to protect assets, including against claims from creditors
At JS Abrams Law, our Santa Clara lawyers explain what items you need to consider when preparing your will. We explain the various types of trust benefits. We then prepare the correct documents to help protect your family and those you want to provide financial security for when you’re gone. Call us at 818-330-4515 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.
If you’re seeking a Santa Clara Wills and Trust Attorney to help you guide the way, schedule your consultation today by calling JS Abrams Law.
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