Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Whether your estate is worth $500,000, $5 million, $50 million or $500 million, changes in laws and changes in lifestyles have made engaging in comprehensive estate planning vital for everyone. When you have assets you wish to pass on, crafting an estate plan—or making changes to an existing one—can ensure that these assets are protected and distributed according to wishes prepared in advance.
At Jeffrey M. Zabner, a Law Corporation, we craft estate plans for individuals and families in Southern California and the rest of the state. Reach out to us in Westlake Village to arrange a free consultation and start planning for tomorrow.
Depending on your needs, your estate plan may contain a number of components. You might have already attempted estate planning before, but require an update because of changed circumstances in your life. No matter the situation, an estate plan may contain any of the following:
Wills: These can be a practical way to determine who should administer your estate after you die and who should receive your assets. It’s important to note that a will does not protect you and your property during any period of incapacity during your lifetime. Because it requires court administration, it could be a costly document for your heirs to administer.
Trusts: If you own significant assets such as equity in a home, a trust can save your beneficiaries the pain of a probate proceeding. Trusts can also help you accomplish specific goals, such as protecting assets you provide to beneficiaries.
Revocable living trusts are estate planning documents that allow you to remain in control of your personal and financial affairs while you are alive and well, letting you decide in advance how you want to be cared for.
Irrevocable trusts are more specialized planning documents in that they can be designed for making gifts, maintaining separate property, achieving an income, gift, or estate tax goal, or protecting beneficiaries from themselves or others’ claims against assets.
Power of attorney: Without a power of attorney in place, a family member could make decisions for you if you are incapacitated and unable to communicate your desires. Designating power of attorney may allow your family to avoid a guardianship proceeding. Keep in mind that general powers of attorney give the agent unlimited power over your property, which may or may not be honored by third parties, such as your bank or brokerage.
Advance medical directives: Who will speak for you if you are unable to communicate with your physicians and health care providers? What are your exact instructions to your doctors? An indispensable part of proper estate planning, an advance medical directive can answer these questions. With it, you can name a trusted individual to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to do so on your own.
Charitable legacy: Whether you want to give charitable gifts during your lifetime or arrange for them to be made after your death, it pays to plan ahead. We can show you many different ways to share your wealth with charitable organizations that will benefit both you and your family.
Incentives: This kind of estate planning involves wealth transfer through specially drafted trusts that contain instructions reflecting the love, care, and concerns of parents toward their children and grandchildren. A well-drafted incentive trust may include your personal set of instructions for passing your wealth on to your children or grandchildren while encouraging them to develop the types of skills and values that helped you acquire, maintain, and manage your wealth. For example, you may stipulate that a child-beneficiary make progress toward a degree in order to be eligible to receive all or some of the income from the trust.
Planning your estate now can help you avoid unintended consequences later. When you set up a free consultation, we will consider a variety of planning scenarios in order to design a comprehensive, tightly-integrated estate or gift plan. Our goal is to help you make thoughtful, enforceable decisions regarding your estate.
No matter the size of your estate, or how straightforward your assets may seem, having a detailed estate plan in place can help you prepare for the future. If you live in the LA area, including Beverly Hills, Calabasas, or the San Fernando Valley, set up an appointment with our office in Westlake Village to begin the process.