Following a person’s death, their assets and estate will be distributed according to their estate plan and California law. Having an effective estate plan in place can help streamline the process and allow beneficiaries to receive their assets faster and easier during what will inevitably be a difficult time for them. It is crucial that your estate plan adheres to California law in order to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, which is why many people seek professional legal assistance.
Beverly Hills Estate Planning Lawyer
At Kushner Legal, our Beverly Hills estate planning lawyers are geared towards protecting our clients’ assets through careful and strategic estate planning. While there is a wide array of legal techniques that attorneys draw upon to protect their clients’ legacies, the ideal estate plan is one that is tailored to your unique assets and family structure.
Kushner Legal is an estate planning law firm in Beverly Hills that can help answer your questions now. Timing can be critical in estate planning so it is important to call Kushner Legal at 310-279-5166 or submit a contact form to get your questions answered and begin setting up your estate plan today. We can discuss your matter over the phone, over Zoom, or meet you at our office or a convenient location in the West Los Angeles area.
What is a Will?
A Last Will and Testament, more commonly known as simply a will, is a legal document that states how to distribute the estate of a person following their death. Moreover, a will can be used to specify who will care for any children.
Chapter Two of the California Probate Code discusses what is necessary for a will to be considered valid in the state of California. There are three different types of wills that are recognized by California probate court:
- Attested wills: Also known as a witnessed will, these documents are usually prepared by a California lawyer and signed by at least two witnesses, neither of which have received any gifts within the will. Due to the nature of these wills, their validity is not often contested during probate.
- Holographic wills: Handwritten by the individual and typically do not contain any witnesses, these wills may be rendered invalid if they fail to comply with California law.
- Statutory wills: These wills are templated and utilize witnesses, but they offer less flexibility in how an individual can distribute their assets.
Regardless of the type of document that an individual uses, all wills must pass through probate to determine their validity and ensure that the estate is handled in accordance with California law.
What Is A Living Trust?
Like a will, a living trust is also used to indicate how an individual would like their estate distributed following their death. It is created during a person’s lifetime and specifies an individual, known as a trustee, who will manage the person’s assets for the eventual heir or heirs.
A trust is funded when assets are placed within it, which can be essentially anything with value such as property, cash, or life insurance policies. There are two types of living trusts that one can utilize, namely:
- Revocable living trust: Allows a trust settlor to name him or herself as the trustee and maintain control of the assets within the trust. The assets remain part of the settlor’s estate, however, making them subject to possible estate taxes.
- Irrevocable living trust: In this case, the settlor gives total control to the trustee, who becomes the rightful owner of the trust. In return, tax liability is reduced.
Individuals opt for living trusts for a variety of reasons and these documents can be key components of an estate plan.
Wills Vs. Living Trusts
While both wills and living trusts are estate planning tools that help transfer estate to heirs, there is a key difference between the two: the necessity of probate: Probate is a court process that handles an individual’s affairs after they die. It is used to determine the validity of a will and manage assets for potential beneficiaries. All wills must pass through probate, but trusts do not.
Understanding the Power Of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare Directives
In addition to wills and living trusts, Power of Attorney (POA) and Advanced Healthcare Directive (AHCD) documents are also valuable estate planning tools. In some cases, an individual may be rendered unable to make financial or healthcare decisions. Power of Attorney and AHCD are used in such situations.
Under California Probate Code Section 4123, a Power of Attorney grants authority to an individual to act on behalf of an incapacitated person regarding their “property, personal care, or any other matter.” A Power of Attorney does not explicitly state how an individual would like their affairs handled but rather names a person who will make such decisions. An AHCD, alternatively, allows a person to state their healthcare preferences, including the use of a ventilator or feeding tube.
Trust an Experienced Beverly Hills Estate Planning Attorney at Kushner Legal
Handling the affairs of a loved one after they pass can be stressful and overwhelming. Having an effective estate plan in place can help alleviate that burden. Following California rules and guidelines is of utmost importance, however, and seeking legal assistance can ensure that your estate plan complies with California law. Our experienced team of Beverly Hills estate planning attorneys at Kushner Law can help you understand your options. Call our Beverly Hills office today at 310-279-5166 to learn more.