Most people wonder: Do I need estate planning?


You do—if you have assets over $150,000 and want to avoid the costs, delays, and hassle of probate.  Probate is the court-supervised process of paying final expenses and distributing assets upon death.  Probate fees are set by law.  Currently, the fees to probate a $500,000 estate are $26,000.

You do—if you want to decide how and to whom your assets will be distributed upon death instead of letting the State of California decide.

You do—if you want to minimize or eliminate paying Federal estate taxes. 

You do—if you have minor children and want to name guardians and ensure your assets will be used responsibly for the benefit of your children.

You do—unless you want your children to receive their entire inheritance at age 18.

You do—unless you already have a Durable Power of Attorney appointing someone you trust to manage your finances if you become disabled or incapacitated.

You do—unless you already have an Advance Health Care Directive appointing someone to make health care decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself.

Most people ask: Do I need a living trust?

Plain and simple, a living or inter-vivos trust allows you to avoid probate and in some instances reduce exposure to estate tax.  It also helps ensure that your assets will be managed and distributed according to your wishes in the event of your incapacity or death. 

What if I already have an estate plan?

I know from experience some of the most difficult family situations are created by out-of-date estate planning documents. Changes in family circumstances and changes in the law make it important to review your estate plan with an attorney at certain junctures.

You should review your estate plan with an attorney if:

There have been any changes to your family situation (marriages, divorce, births); you want to change your beneficiaries, successor trustees,  or agents; you have acquired or inherited assets or property; you have started or invested in a business; you do not know if you have the right estate plan to avoid estate tax liability.

Law Office of Cynthia J. Tasker
1101 College Ave., Ste. 200  |  Santa Rosa, CA 95404  |  (707) 546-6404
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