Committed Estate Planning Lawyer Helping Huntington Beach Clients Prepare for the Future
It’s important to utilize the services of a qualified, experienced attorney when preparing for the future of your legacy in order to protect against any problems that might arise from a lack of proper planning. Even though most people understand the importance of estate planning, many simply don’t follow through. Not being prepared can have devastating consequences for the life that you’ve built and those left behind.
Stephen Shepard Attorney at Law can help ensure that your wishes are followed in the event of your death or incapacitation.
The Importance of Estate Planning
Proper planning will help to:
- Designate the family members and loved ones that you wish to receive your assets after your death
- Optimize tax benefits
- Avoid the time, costs, and headache of probate court
- Outline your wishes regarding medical care in case you are incapacitated
- Reduce the time and legal hassles during the distribution of property to those you’ve designated
- Appoint care for any minor children
The state of California has very specific regulations regarding the transferring and closing of estates. This legal process is called probate. When someone passes away with or without a will, the court steps in to oversee the distribution of assets. If a will denotes who should facilitate the process, this named executor has two years from the time the original estate owner passes away to notify creditors and inheritors of the death, pay off remaining debts, and give the named beneficiaries their assets. If no one was named, the court will appoint someone to take care of it. We help executors meet every criterion and complete their duties quickly and efficiently.
It is critical that such a document follow legal rules in order to be valid, as establishing a will allows you to allocate assets to designated beneficiaries (including specific people and/or organizations) following your death. A will also allows you to name an executor and guardian(s) for any minor children.
Trusts can replace or be created in addition to a will. A living trust is a legal entity that holds your property and is administered by you. A living trust gives you the freedom of managing your own property and can be revoked at any time. Additionally, the property in the trust avoids probate. Forming a trust has a number of advantages and there are different types to fit your needs. Unlike a will, a trust is private. Consult with a qualified estate planning attorney to understand if a trust would be an effective part of your estate plan.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney document authorizes another person, or “agent,” to act on your behalf regarding business transactions in the event that you become incapacitated or pass away. It’s important to execute a Medical Power of Attorney (also called an advance healthcare directive) to ensure that you receive the kind of healthcare that you desire if you are unable to make those decisions. Attorney Stephen Shepard can help you to create a directive to physicians that will outline your wishes about how a doctor should approach your treatment. Such issues as your desired quality of life or Do Not Resuscitate orders (DNR) are covered in such a document. Designating a durable power of attorney designates a “patient advocate” to help make those critical decisions as well.
Stephen Shepard Attorney at Law can also assist with Conservatorships and Guardianships.
Costs & Fees
Living trust and estate planning services (not probate) are handled on an hourly fee basis plus costs incurred. An advance fee retainer is required before representation begins. When an advance fee retainer is used up, it must be replenished to the original amount. Our current hourly rate is $400 per hour.