Estate Plans

The Anastasi Law Firm offers its clients affordable, fair and prompt solutions to assist clients with creating a Estate Plan the carefully designed for their needs and intentions.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is a process developed with a trust lawyer.  It involves people – your family, other individuals and, in many cases, charitable organizations of your choice.  It also involves your assets, your property, and the various forms of ownership and title that those assets may take.  Estate planning addresses your future needs in case you ever become unable to care for yourself.

Through estate planning, you can determine:

  • How and by whom your assets will be managed for your benefit during your lifetime if you ever become unable to manage them yourself due to a physical or mental incapacity.
  • The circumstances when it makes sense to distribute your assets during your lifetime.
  • How and to whom your assets will be distributed after your death.
  • How and by whom your personal care will be managed and how health care decisions will be made during your lifetime if you become unable to care for yourself.

What is involved in estate planning?

There are many issues to consider in creating an estate plan.  First of all, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my assets and what is their approximate value?
  • Whom do I want to receive those assets (heir and/or other beneficiary) – and when?
  • Who should manage those assets if I cannot – either during my lifetime or after my death?
  • Who should be responsible for taking care of my minor children if I become unable to care for them myself?
  • Who should make decisions on my behalf concerning my care and welfare if I become unable to care for myself?
  • What do I want done with my remains after I die and where would I want them buried, scattered or otherwise laid to rest?

The following are important documents in most every estate plan:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Revocable Living Trust
  • Appointment of guardians for minors or disabled dependents
  • Durable Power of Attorney for financial decisions
  • Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare decisions, also known as a Health Care Directive (this is not a DNR order or POLST, which should be used thoughtfully)

Who needs an Estate Plan?

You do – whether your estate is large or small.  Estate planning is not for the wealthy.  It is for everybody.  Either way, you should designate someone to manage your assets and make health care and personal care decisions for you if you ever become unable to so for yourself.

If you don’t have an estate plan, the law in the State of California has one for you, through a process known as intestate succession that will be managed by the Probate Court.  State law will determine who will receive your estate assets, even if you would have disagreed with that result.  To make sure that you make the decisions about the distribution of your estate assets, you need to have Will and/or a Living Trust.

A well-planned estate can preserve and protect your assets and assure that they will pass to the intended recipients with a minimum of expense and delay.  Conversely a poorly planned estate can have the opposite effect.   There are many approaches to estate planning from “do-it-yourself” websites like LegalZoom and software, to meeting with an estate attorney or other planning professional.  The Anastasi Law Firm has experience in handling simple and complicated estate and personal matters and there are a number of distinct advantages to using a trust lawyer to create your estate plan.

What is included in an Estate?

All of your assets.  This could include assets held in your name alone or jointly with others, assets such as bank accounts, real estate, stocks and bonds, and furniture, cars and jewelry.  Your assets may also include life insurance proceeds, retirement accounts and payments that are due to you such as a tax refund, outstanding loan or inheritance.

Paralegal or Internet Prepared Plan

The initial cost of an estate plan should not be the only consideration by the client.  A poorly prepared estate plan will likely prove to be much more costly than a properly prepared estate plan.  While online estate planning sites like LegalZoom, may be good, an in-person meeting with an attorney provides tremendous advantages.  Problems with the estate plan may not become apparent until after the person who signed the estate plan has died.  At that point, it is usually too late to correct the problems and the result could be extended and costly legal process or litigation.

It is also a violation of California State law for paralegals to give you legal advice.  Due to the complexity of a Will or Living Trust (revocable trust and irrevocable trust), questions are bound to arise regarding the meaning of various parts of the document and decisions that need to be made.  Non-lawyers who attempt to answer these questions are breaking the law and could be providing inaccurate information.

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Free Consultation
Contact us today to set up a Free Consultation (20 minutes) either in our office or over the phone. In the San Jose metro area, call us at 408.292.2606. In the Santa Cruz area, call us at 831.475.0771.