San Diego Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Estate Planning Basics

For most of us, the need for estate planning is not to avoid estate taxes, but to transfer our estate to our beneficiaries without the need for a court ordered probate and to do so with as little fuss and complications as possible. That is why an up to date living trust and pour-over will is an important estate planning tool to transfer wealth to your beneficiaries. The alternative to not having these estate planning documents is not pretty. What happens is that the court determines who and how much of your estate is to be transferred. In addition, court fees and attorney fees will take a much larger percentage of your estate than you would like, meaning a lesser amount to the beneficiaries of the estate.

A well drafted trust and pour-over will, will help you avoid the pitfalls of probate but what about incapacity or illness that temporarily or permanently renders you incapacitated? A living trust will also assist in these times as well because the person you appoint as successor trustee will be able to step in as trustee and continue to manage the trust estate just as you did before the incapacity. In addition, your Durable Power of Attorney will allow the agent you appoint to manage those assets that are typically not assets of the trust, for example, retirement accounts. Your agent will be able to “step into your shoes” in order to assist with financial accounts and other important assets that need attention during your time of incapacity.

As for decisions involving your health during times of incapacity, that is where your Advance Health Care Directive plays an important role. With the Advance Health Care Directive, you have already stated what your intentions are regarding extending your life beyond natural limits, if without the assistance of life support, you would not be able to continue to live. This is so important because you are not leaving the decision up to your loved ones to make, especially at a time when they are already making important decisions regarding your health care and other important matters.

If this is something you believe is important, then contact me today to begin creating your estate plan.     

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