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The Absolute Necessity of Estate Planning

The Absolute Necessity of Estate Planning

Whether you are an affluent individual or a person of more modest means, if you’ve labored and saved for a number of years, you are perhaps already thinking about estate planning. Of course, no single estate planning strategy is right for everyone. Your estate plan will depend on your personal, family, and financial circumstances. For some, a living trust will offer substantial, practical advantages. For other people, there’s no benefit at all to a living trust, and a will can take care of all of your estate planning needs. Whatever your personal circumstances are, you can learn more and obtain the sound estate planning advice you truly need by scheduling a consultation promptly with a good estate planning lawyer. In southern California, speak to an experienced Orange County estate planning attorney.

Especially if you have loved ones who rely on you, you should speak at once to an estate planning attorney, and if you own a business or a home, you should also consider estate planning. While there’s every reason to begin the estate planning process immediately – tomorrow, as we all know, is guaranteed to no one – good estate planning doesn’t happen in a rush or on a whim, either. Ideally, the best estate planning is about selecting the wisest choices and making the most informed decisions so that your wishes and directions are carried out precisely and faithfully when the time comes. Estate planning isn’t exclusively for the rich and famous, but for most people it’s a bit more complex than drafting a simple will, and it takes a bit more time.


Why, you might ask, should you retain the advice and services of an estate planning attorney when you can download blank estate planning forms or buy a “do-it-yourself” estate planning kit? An experienced estate planning attorney has seen the kinds of difficulties and disputes that can emerge over personal estates. Your attorney can provide the seasoned guidance and helpful insights that you may not consider otherwise. There may also be estate planning options just right for you that you may not know about. When planning your estate, an attorney’s advice is absolutely essential.

Effective estate planning requires a trained, experienced, and fully up-to-date estate planning lawyer to assist you with creating exactly the legal documents you need. The longer you wait, the more important – and the more critical – estate planning becomes. If you wait too long, for example, you may end up making choices in a hurry in a less-than-ideal situation. If that situation happens without warning – for example, you are permanently disabled in an accident, or routine blood tests reveal a terminal illness – a dispute is more likely to emerge among your heirs and loved ones. Start planning your estate now, while there’s no question that you are of sound mind and acting voluntarily. You can arrange an initial consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer, in fact, by making the call right now.


You must give estate planning plenty of time and a lot of serious thought. A will or a living trust that’s drafted in haste could conceivably trigger a long, loud, and contentious legal dispute that you certainly don’t want. Generally speaking, a will transfers your estate to your beneficiaries after you pass away. If you have a minor child or children, their guardian in the event of your death should be named in your will. A living trust does more than a will; it can also include your wishes for your care if you should become incapacitated, and it enables your trustees to handle your finances if you are incapacitated. Like a will, a living trust also transfers assets after your death, but with a living trust your estate can avoid the probate process.

Your estate plan should genuinely benefit your loved ones, reflect your values, and express your desires and wishes for your family after you are gone. Take the time to consider your loved ones, and try to create an estate plan that does not needlessly generate controversy and resentment. If a family member thinks that your plan isn’t fair, have a discussion now, and explain to that person why your choices were made. You want to do what you can to avoid a legal war over your estate. When your estate plan is complete and your family understands your reasoning and motives, you’ll have authentic peace of mind. If you need to, you can change your estate plan as your life and family change and as the years pass by.


Simply defined, a will is a document that expresses “your will” – that is, your wishes for what will happen to your assets and properties after you pass away. Your will is revocable, and as long as you live, it can also be modified. In contrast, a living trust also allows you to manage your assets and properties as you please while you are still alive. A properly drafted and adequately funded living trust ensures that if you are incapacitated, your assets and properties will be managed in line with your wishes. When you establish a revocable living trust, you move assets into the ownership of the trust, retain control over those assets, and you may revoke or change the trust at any point and for any reason. However, a revocable living trust cannot reduce your state or federal estate taxes. As you might imagine, a living trust costs slightly more than a will because a living trust is “living,” that is, actively funded and maintained. What’s best for you? Wills and living trusts perform many of the same functions. Unless you are a financial expert or an estate planning attorney yourself, you’ll need to consult with an estate planning lawyer who can suggest the estate planning options that are best for you.


If your estate is fairly modest and you choose a will rather than a living trust, have an attorney’s help when you draft that document. Those who write their own wills often can overlook important details – the disposition of individual property items, the care of pets, and more. For example, it’s not uncommon after a death for family members to bicker about a specific possession that may have only a sentimental value. Before you draft a will, find out what’s important to your heirs and loved ones, and you can help them avoid acrimony after you’re gone. Name a caregiver and an alternate caregiver for your pets, and have a discussion with each of those people about the caregiver role.

To avoid any misunderstandings, your estate planning attorney will see to it that the language in your will spells out everything plainly and precisely. If you are a parent, you’ll want to identify a guardian for your minor child or children in your will. Without a named guardian, if both parents (or a single parent) pass away, the fate and custody of your children could become a legal dispute. A good estate planning lawyer will ensure that no details of your will are overlooked, will help you to take the time you need, and will help you carefully to examine all of your estate planning options.


When the estate planning process is complete, what’s the best way to store your estate planning documents? It’s a question often asked of estate planning lawyers. In 2016, “cloud-based” document storage is a popular, low-cost way to store important documents as well as family photos and other important personal items. But are these storage sites and the companies sponsoring them reliable? Will others have access to your estate planning documents when those documents are needed?

Cloud-based storage meets a genuine need – at least in theory. Paper documents hide in odd and inconvenient spots, and they’re invariably difficult or impossible to find when they’re needed. Digital “vaults” should be – and may eventually become – a smart option. However, something as important as your estate planning documents really cannot be trusted to startup companies that are part of a fledgling industry. You need secure, permanent document storage. With startup companies, there’s also more likelihood of their computers crashing or being hacked by people with bad intentions. Moreover, as of 2016, only several states legally recognize digital wills, so in most jurisdictions you are still required to keep paper documents and to store them safely. It may still be years before lawmakers are able to agree on what rules, regulations, and guidelines should apply to digital estate planning documents.

For now, if you have any questions or concerns regarding your own estate planning needs, wills versus living trusts, or the proper storage of your estate planning documents, have those concerns addressed right away by consulting with a good estate planning lawyer, and in southern California, with an experienced Orange County estate planning attorney. A good estate planning lawyer can also handle debt and tax issues related to your estate, asset distribution after you pass away, and can eventually help your family to close your estate. Peace of mind regarding your family’s future really is just one phone call away. Make that call to a good estate planning attorney promptly.