Pasadena Estate Planning Lawyers Helping Clients Preserve Their Wealth for Future Generations
Estate planning is one of those topics nobody really wants to think about, but it is an extremely important step if you are looking for ways to preserve your wealth and ensure your family will not face financial difficulties when you pass away. Our attorneys have assisted countless families in Pasadena and surrounding areas to create a solid estate plan to protect their legacy – here are a few important things to know about estate planning in California.
What Is Estate Planning and Why Is It Important?
Estate planning is a set of documents and strategies to define how your assets will be distributed among your heirs after you pass away. Proper estate plans also enable you to protect your assets and your heirs from a large tax burden. In addition, a well-crafted estate plan can ensure your beneficiaries will remain financially stable without your income. Finally, another aspect that is often overlooked is that with an estate plan, you can define who should take care of your minor children if you were to pass away prematurely. For these reasons, estate plans are for everyone, regardless of your net worth.
Is California a Probate State?
The state of California does have a probate process, but not every asset or estate needs to be probated. Simply put, probate is a way for the state to make sure a decedent’s assets are properly distributed to his or her heirs according to the decedent’s wishes or following California’s intestate succession statutes when the decedent left no will.
In California, a traditional probate process is generally required when the decedent’s estate has a total value of $166,250.00 or more. These estates may go through a simplified process, and the same is true for assets owned by the decedent as community property with a spouse. If your estate is valued at more than $166,250.00, there are several estate planning strategies that may allow you to keep many of your assets out of probate, so it may be in your best interest to seek the help of an estate planning attorney.
What Happens if I Die Without Any Estate Plans?
In some cases, people end up passing away before they have taken any action to create an estate plan. This can potentially result in significant headaches for their beneficiaries and leave important decisions in the hands of a probate court. For example, it will be up to the court to decide how your assets will be divided among heirs according to the California intestate succession statute, and if you left behind any small children, the court will determine who their caretaker will be.
Your estate may also be exposed to a bigger tax liability or trigger other types of taxes your beneficiaries may end up paying after receiving an inheritance. Having an estate plan, or at the very least a will, is very important if you want your wishes to be recorded and respected. In addition, many estate planning tools such as trusts allow you to avoid probate and minimize the tax bill your beneficiaries may be subject to.
What Does an Estate Planning Attorney Do?
An estate planning attorney can handle a variety of paperwork and help you draft important documents that are part of your estate plans. Having a properly drafted last will is a key component of any estate plan, and an attorney can ensure it is written correctly and in a way that will not be contested by heirs.
Your estate planning attorney can also assist with tasks such as creating living trusts and financial plans to reduce or avoid estate taxes, keeping your assets out of probate, writing healthcare directives and power of attorney documents, and much more. The role of an estate planning attorney is to help you with knowledge and advice to help you protect your legacy and make the process of transferring your assets to your beneficiaries as easy as possible and following your wishes. At Barilari & Williams, LLP, our legal team provides estate planning support and guidance for clients in Pasadena and surrounding areas. Contact us for a free consultation at 888-EST-PLAN.