We have a separate website for those that need an Orange County Estate Planning Attorney, but this short summary explains what Estate Planning is. Estate planning is the process of arranging for decisions for an individual or family, including that person’s estate, taxes, guardianships, and health care decisions, while that person is still alive or has the capacity to make decisions.
The process is centered around eliminating any ambiguity over the administration of a probate and to maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. Nevertheless, estate planning is first and foremost about the specific goals of the client, and can be as simple or as complex as those needs may be. Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries in incapacity.
Through estate planning a client can arrange for circumstances where they are no longer able to care for themselves in later life. They can also decide when and under what circumstances it is most logical to begin distributing their estate, and likewise, how and to whom they will distribute their estate to. It also encompasses the delicate decisions regarding health, such as how health care decisions will be made in their lifetime if they do become unable to look after themselves. Estate planning is not simply the writing of a will, but a lengthy process with a will being only a small part.
If you are to consider planning your estate now, there are some questions you should first consider:
- What are my assets?
- Whom do I wish to receive those assets and when?
- Who should manage my assets if I cannot?
- Who will take care of my young children if I cannot?
- Who should make decisions about my healthcare should I become incapacitated?
Another thing to consider is the need for alternative beneficiaries, should your original choices not outlive you. Estate planning is for everyone, whether your assets be numerous or few. Your first step after asking yourself these questions is to seek a qualified lawyer.
A good lawyer will be able to assist you on every step of planning your estate. Their duties include helping you organize your assets and find their value, assist you in writing your will, draw up any legal documents that may be needed etc. Your lawyer will also be able to advise you, if your estate is large, on how to preserve your assets for your chosen beneficiaries and on reducing or postponing of the amount of taxes that may otherwise be payable after your passing.
It is advised to only seek guidance from a qualified attorney however. There are many such law firms and individual lawyers in the Orange County area, who specialize in the handling of estate planning specifically.