Establishing your legacy.
Custom Legacy Planning in the Conejo Valley
Many people do not realize that they technically have a “plan” for what will happen to their assets when they do not take the time to create an estate plan. When someone dies without a will or other estate planning tools, their assets are distributed per California's intestacy laws. Many people understandably would prefer a different outcome, which is why estate planning is so important. Proactive planning allows you to take control over what will happen to you, your property, and your loved ones when you die or become incapacitated.
Types of Estate Planning Tools in California
Every adult should have an estate plan, no matter the size of their estate or how young and healthy they are. Many people assume writing a will is enough, but your last will and testament has several key shortcomings. While a will allows you to decide who gets your assets, who will take care of your minor children, and who will oversee estate administration, it has no legal authority until you pass away. It also does not help your estate avoid probate, a costly process that burdens many California families.
In other words, a strong estate plan is more than a will. It is in your best interest to fully understand the planning solutions available to you.
Our Thousand Oaks estate planning attorney can assist you with many types of tools and strategies, including:
- Trusts. Trusts are highly customizable arrangements that come in many “flavors.” A trustee will hold and manage trust assets for one or more beneficiaries. A revocable living trust is modifiable throughout your lifetime and can be used to transfer assets without going through probate. Irrevocable trusts are not modifiable, but they can be used to achieve specific objectives, such as asset protection and the legal avoidance of estate taxes.
- Powers of Attorney. A power of attorney document gives an agent the legal permission to do certain things on your behalf. You decide what your agent can do and when they can do it. For example, you can choose to use a power of attorney authorization that “springs” if you become incapacitated. Your agent can advocate for you in health care settings, manage your financial affairs, and fulfill other responsibilities you assign them.
- Advance Directives. In an advance directive, you describe the types of medical care you wish to receive in a scenario where you become unable to communicate. These instructions must be honored in California.
- Business Succession Planning. A family business can fall apart overnight if a robust succession plan is not in place. We can help you ensure your business, financial, and estate plans are all in alignment. In addition to choosing a successor and communicating your intentions, we can help you explore other succession-related solutions, including a Business Buy-Sell Agreement (BSA).
Our team at the Law Offices of Kent W. Keating can also assist you with the probate process if you have been named as the executor of your loved one's estate. We are well-versed in California estate administration and are familiar with how to effectively handle many types of complications, including will contests.
Updating Your Estate Plan in California
Your estate plan should not be static, as your preferences in ten years are unlikely to be the same as they are now. Our Thousand Oaks estate planning lawyer can assist with any necessary updates and help recommend changes throughout your lifetime.
As a general rule, you should go over your estate planning every few years, even if you are confident no changes are necessary. You should immediately review your estate plan if you experience a significant life event.
You should review your estate planning documents if:
- You get married or divorced
- You have a child
- Estate planning laws change
- You move to a new state
- Your financial circumstances or goals change
- You no longer wish to include a beneficiary, executor, or trustee
- A chosen beneficiary, executor, or trustee passes away