What Is Estate Planning?

At its core, estate planning is a lifelong process of evaluating your situation and making plans for the future. It frequently involves planning for your family, friends, and even some charitable organizations of your choice. Estate planning requires considering all your assets and whatever forms of ownership and title those assets take, as well as determining who will manage those assets when you are deceased.

In addition, it also includes planning for your possible disability, eventual retirement, and death. Needless to say, a wide range of legal, financial, emotional and logistical issues must be addressed in a good estate plan.The Law Offices of Janis A. Carney in Silicon Valley can help you create a comprehensive estate plan that addresses your desires and concerns.

What Is Involved in an Estate Plan?

A complete estate plan package usually consists of an advance health care directive, a durable power of attorney for management of property and personal affairs, a simple will, and a revocable trust, along with all the accompanying documents. Property owners who decide upon a revocable trust will also require a grant deed and property tax documentation to transfer their property into that trust. Of course, not every individual requires a trust. An experienced estate planning attorney, such as the attorneys at The Law Office of Janis A. Carney, will assist clients in determining what kinds of documents are necessary for their particular situations.

Do I Need an Estate Plan?

Regardless of the size of your estate, you will want to name a person you trust to manage your assets and personal care in the event of incapacity. Ultimately, you should choose someone you feel confident to make good healthcare decisions for you. If your estate is relatively small, you may decide to concentrate on choosing beneficiaries to receive your assets following your death and designating a person to be responsible for managing the distribution of those assets. If your estate is larger, then you will want to consider not only who will inherit your assets, but also how you can best preserve them for your chosen beneficiaries. For example, a good estate plan will often reduce estate tax significantly or may serve to postpone its payment.

In cases in which no planning is done, the court appoints an individual to take charge of your assets and personal care in the event of incapacity. This process occurs in a conservatorship proceeding. After your death, assets will be distributed according to a set of rules set forth in what is known as “intestate succession” in a probate proceeding. The probate process allows relatives to be heirs ahead of the state; however, the probate costs will be subtracted from the inheritance, and it may not go to the particular heirs you would choose. For that reason, it is crucial to have an estate plan. Feel free to contact us today to get started.

What Kind of Estate Plan Do I Need?

In selecting the estate plan that is right for you, it is important to:

  • List your assets along with their value
  • Consider which beneficiaries you would like to designate to receive those assets
  • Determine when you would like those individuals to receive your assets
  • Decide who should take charge of your assets in case you become unable to continue being in charge of them, either during your lifetime or afterward
  • Select a person to care for your minor children in the event of your death or incapacitation
  • Determine who will make decisions for you about your care and welfare should you lose the ability to care for yourself.

Once you have completed your deliberations and have a reasonably good idea of your intentions, you will be ready to seek the advice of a qualified attorney. A qualified attorney will explain the various documents available and advise you in the prudent management of your estate. If you would like to learn more about estate planning or begin the process, then contact The Law Offices of Janis A. Carney in Silicon Valley today.

Are you already an estate planning client? Check out our Continuity Program, which is designed specifically and exclusively for our estate planning clients.

Interested in our long-term care planning? Check out our long-term care planning page for more information.