Estate Planning

The law of trusts and estates, also know in civil law as the law of successions, is the area of law that deals with anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an individual’s estate when that person becomes incapacitated or passes away. An estate plan is a set of legal documents that outlines the individual’s wishes regarding how the assets of the estate are divided and dispensed.

Questions about Estate Planning? Do you or a loved one need help navigating the ever-changing rules to securing your assets?

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Estate planning can be a sensitive subject since, among other things, it deals with assets and money after one is no longer capable of making conscious decisions regarding these things. Depending upon whether there are certain prearranged devices that determine how things are handled, the process may become a matter of probate, which is a legal process in which the court makes all decisions regarding the estate according to federal and state laws, and this can be very expensive and time consuming. Probate is always something to be avoided when possible. A common issue regarding probate is that the court does not discriminate among family members. Hence, as the estate is divided and delivered there may be a distinct difference between how the estate is dispensed and how the deceased or incapacitated person would have preferred. The primary key in avoiding probate is to name beneficiaries on all assets.

A living trust is a legal document that outlines the wishes of an individual in the case of incapacitation, disability or death. One of the main purposes of a living trust is to avoid probate. Not only does it allow for the naming of an executor and beneficiaries as in the case of a will, but a living trust can contain specifics on how assets are processed, the timelines of delivery, and special conditions. Living trusts can also help reduce taxes charged to the estate. They also bring the satisfaction of knowing that the individual is not leaving a costly administrative nightmare to loved ones. Another important factor is that a living trust is a private affair, not public as in the case of probate. In contrast to a will by itself, a living trust can eliminate the potential of probate, whereas without the trust, a will, by law, with be processed in probate.

There are more advantages to estate planning than those mentioned above. Estate planning allows you to assign durable financial power of attorney and durable medical power of attorney. Virtually all estate planners recommend a living will, also known as an advance health care directive, which documents instructions regarding health care in the case of an individual who cannot make decisions because of illness or incapacity. Estate planning enforces your wishes and choices while you are alive so that in the event that the need occurs, your estate is handled the way you want it to be.

Estate planning is one of Tina Chen’s primary areas of applied law. Taking advantage of her free initial consultation will bring you peace of mind, knowing that as you develop your estate plan with Tina, you are already in good hands. Call her for an appointment today.