Newman Law Group

Tustin Estate Planning Law Blog

Asset protection the goal in estate planning

Protecting loved ones is often one of the primary goals expressed by California residents. There are many ways in which this goal is accomplished; loved ones can be protected both physically and financially. One way in which they are protected financially is through estate planning and ensuring that asset protection concerns have been addressed.

One of the first steps in estate planning and protecting assets is to make sure that all the necessary documents are in order. Creating a will is an important part of this process. The will should itemize assets and identify to whom these assets should be transferred. For assets that do not have specific beneficiary documents attached to them, a will is the document which indicates beneficiaries.

Power of attorney allows another to make important decisions

Many California residents make plans. They plan what they will do over the weekend, where they will go on vacation next summer and even who will host Thanksgiving next year. While making these type of plans is important, it is even more important to plan for the future. Planning for the future often includes creating a will, devising an estate plan and establishing a power of attorney.

A power of attorney gives another individual or an organization the ability to make decisions and conduct business on behalf of the individual in the event that he or she is unable to do so. If one becomes ill and unable to make decisions, the individual with power of attorney may do so on his or her behalf. While many assume that a loved one will be able to make decisions without a power of attorney, there are many medical and financial decisions that the loved one will be unable to make without this document or court involvement.

Blended families and inheritance

The typical California family is anything but typical. Some families consist of mom, dad and the kids; other families include step-parents and step-children. Estate planning is essential regardless of the family make-up; however, with blended families, estate planning can be crucial in making sure that each individual receives the intended inheritance.

While a will is an essential document, it is also important to make sure that the beneficiaries on retirement and investment accounts as well as insurance policies are as intended. With a change in family status, it is easy to remember to change the beneficiary in one place but not in the other. This can lead to confusion and potential conflict among heirs.

Wills are one of the best ways to plan and protect family

No one knows what the future holds. Everyone makes plans for the future; however, for some, there is no future. Unfortunately, California residents die every day, and planning for this inevitability benefits all involved. Perhaps the best way to plan and protect family and assets is through the creation of wills

One of the primary reasons to create a will is that it allows the individual to direct how his or her estate will be divided. The individual can specify exactly how much money or which itemized assets or possessions will go to specific individuals. It also allows the maker of the will to specifically exclude individuals from receiving specific assets or any assets at all.

Trusts offer convenient method to transfer assets

Estate planning comprises a number of different topics that all have a common goal. In addition to wills, powers of attorney and estate administration directives, many California residents find that trusts offer a convenient method to transfer assets. Although there are many different types of trusts, the two most common are revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts.

Revocable trusts are executed during the lifetime of the property owner. With this type of trust, title to the property is transferred to the trust while the individual is still living. Additionally, the individual transferring the property remains as the trustee and has the ability to discontinue the property's inclusion in the trust at will. The benefit of this type of trust is that, upon the individual's death, the property is not subject to probate because it is owned by the trust.

Health care directives can guide family in making decisions

Advances in medical care have added years to the life of the average California resident. Illnesses that would once result in almost certain death can now be treated, and the individual can continue on with a normal life. As a loved one ages, many times, it is up to family members to decide what that individual wants and how to medically best take care of him or her. These decisions can be stressful for the family and often cause dissension. In order to avoid all this, one can establish advanced health care directives indicating the type and extent of medical care desired.

Dementia is a disease that will ultimately affect approximately half of the aging population. Along with it comes the inability to make personal medical decisions. This leaves the family debating on whether or not treatable illnesses should be treated. Society and the medical community typically advocate for treating illness simply because it can be treated. However, is this truly the best option for one whose quality of life has diminished due to advanced dementia?

Preparing wills important for newly married couples

Many people believe that estate planning is something that someone at or approaching retirement age should be doing. This way of thinking, though, could be a serious problem for many California couples. In fact, estate planning and the creation of wills are something that should begin almost as soon as the wedding vows are shared.

One of the first pieces of the estate planning process includes the couple's individual wills. Each individual should create of list of all assets and decide exactly how these assets should be distributed if the worst should happen. An important part of this process is naming beneficiaries, especially if there are specific items that should go to someone other than the current spouse. Once this is done, each one will want to meet with an estate planning attorney to formally draft the will.

Basics of estate planning

Over the years, the average individual will accumulate both assets and liabilities. These will often be in the form of real estate, investments, collections, mortgages and other personal debt. While this accumulation is normal for most California residents, how to handle these assets and liabilities as a part of one's estate is unique to each individual. For this reason, estate planning is crucial for those wanting to make things easier and protect assets for the next generation.

On the surface, estate planning can appear to be an overwhelming process. One of the first steps to take is to create a list of all assets and liabilities. Upon review of this list, one may decide that it would simply be easier on all involved if some of the assets or liabilities were disposed of. Assets that have little meaning to others or that may be difficult for another to place value upon can be sold to eliminate confusion later on. Once this list is completed, it is important to review it on a regular basis and update it as needed.

Durable power of attorney essential in planning for the future

Unfortunately, planning for the future involves planning for both the best and worst case scenarios. Under the best of circumstances, the individual will live a long, full life and be able to enjoy California retirement. On the other hand, this is not guaranteed, and the individual may suffer a condition in which he or she is unable to make their own personal decisions. In both instances, a durable power of attorney will be a beneficial document.

For the individual who is able to enjoy the so-called golden years, the durable power of attorney can add a sense of freedom. This document will allow a specified individual to act on behalf of the individual. This person can take care of paying bills and managing assets while one is off enjoying life.

Yes, medical professionals have singular planning needs

It is certainly not unusual to note that doctors, dentists and many other medical professionals have multiple and distinct planning needs that are flatly dissimilar from individuals in other career fields.

In fact, it is logical that they do, given the singularity of their industry and the unique training that qualifies them for practicing within it.