Your estate is so much more than what you own.
At Sonin Law, we will be there for you and your family going forward, as counselors at law that always have your best interests in mind.
Though much is taken, much abides;
and though we are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
What happens to my property when I die?
That depends on whether you put an estate plan in place before you die or become incapacitated. The state has a plan for your property if you fail to plan. After a lot of time and expense in court, what's left of your property after those expenses will go in even shares to your heirs. If any children are under 18, they will receive their inheritance the day they turn eighteen.
Worse, your family is likely to be torn apart by conflict, just when they should be supporting each other in the grieving process.
I've got a will, isn't that enough?
If you prepare partially by having a will written, there will still be a lot of time and a lot of expense. If your property is only divided by a will, your representative must probate the will (submit it to a court for a judge to approve distributions).
In California, probate fees average 5% of the value of the whole estate (which includes the full market value of your home), but can often be much higher.A will is a public document, so if you don't want the world to know your financial business, having only a will is not a good idea.
What is the best way to plan for my estate?
If you have very simple finances and a very uncomplicated family situation, it is possible to do some do-it-yourself planning. But it is very risky. There can be unforeseen results from that kind of informal planning, which can leave a mess for your heirs and give assets to people you didn't intend.
At Sonin Law, we think the savings and property you've worked so hard to accumulate should be handled exactly the way you want, without wasting a lot of money in probate fees, and doing the utmost to encourage family harmony. The best way to do that is to work with an estate planning attorney for prepare for your future incapacity and eventual death.
When you meet with the estate planning attorney at Sonin Law, she spends time to get to know you, your goals, and how your family works. She helps you voice what your real desires are for after you're gone, and implements those in the estate plan she creates. In most cases, one or more trusts will be created, to handle things if you become incapacitated as well as after your death.
What does Estate Planning cost?
Costs and attorney fees to prepare an estate plan vary, depending on how many different assets you own and how complex the plan is.
Planning for a couple with one house and a bank account is less expensive than planning for a family who want to arrange for a business to continue after their death or an individual or couple who wants to set aside funds to provide for their pets or domestic animals.
At Sonin Law, you decide what level of planning best suits you, and we agree on a flat fee before any planning begins.
What does NOT doing Estate Planning cost?
NOT planning will virtually always cost your heirs more than what doing the planning will cost you. At the least, they will have higher attorney fees, may have probate costs, and could even have litigation costs if your heirs disagree about how assets should be divided. Worse, if you don’t plan, no one will have power to handle things if you become incapacitated.
When you die, your family will be lost in grief. They will be comforting each other, and figuring out how to go on while missing you. Don't compound their grief by piling on unnecessary burdens of dealing with the property you left behind.
What happens if I become incapacitated, if I can't handle my own affairs?
A catastrophic car wreck, a sudden stroke, or the side effects of many diseases can lessen your ability to make decisions. In the worst case, you could be in a coma for months, unable to speak or handle any of your day-to-day activities.
If that happens, who will take care of things? Who will pay your bills so you don't lose your home? Who will feed your pets and water your plants? Who has authority to deal with your medical insurance to be sure the hospital gets paid?
Though many people fear death, disability is far more likely to happen even before old age.
I don't know who would take care of me if I'm incapacitated...
Do not postpone putting crucial documents like a Power of Attorney or an Advance Healthcare Directive into place because you're not sure who you would choose to handle things while you are incapacitated. No decision is almost always worse than an imperfect decision.
At Sonin Law, we help guide you through choosing who you want to make decisions for your healthcare, and who you want to make decisions about your finances.
It's never too early to start planning for your estate.
Call Sonin Law today at (530) 662-2226 for an appointment to discuss you Estate Planning needs.
© 2015 Barbara Sonin
DISCLAIMER: In publishing these materials, the author is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional service. If legal advice is required, the service of a competent professional should be sought. No attorney-client relationship is created by the provision of this information.