Estate Planning for Your Piece of Mind
You have worked for years to build the life and estate that you have today. Yet at Sadeghi & Associates, we know that estate planning is about far more than money. It is about stability, security, relationships, and legacy.
When clients come to our office, they are concerned about leaving an inheritance to their children, losing assets due to medical bills if they require long-term care, providing for a disabled child when they are no longer with their loved one, and funding the charitable causes that they are passionate about.
Your unique estate plan should be tailored to your financial circumstances and assets, goals for retirement, and intentions for the distribution of your assets.
At Sadeghi & Associates, we work closely and compassionately with our clients to achieve these important objectives.
Benefits of Estate Planning
Regardless of the size of your estate, everyone can benefit from careful estate planning.
Setting up an estate plan that is tailored to your assets, goals, and desires for distribution of your assets upon your passing can help to lower your overall tax liability (both during your life and the tax liability of your estate after your death), avoid the costs and delays of probate, and provide for your beneficiaries in special ways, like spreading out distributions over time.
Estate Planning Services We Offer
Acting Power of Attorney
One of the very first things you should do when setting up your estate plan is to execute a Power of Attorney—a legal document that gives a designated person authority to make all legal and financial decisions on your behalf, in the event you become incapacitated.
Few people expect to find themselves in this situation, but having a Power of Attorney will allow you to have confidence knowing that an individual who you trust will be handling your important affairs. It also takes stress off of your family members in the event you lose mental capacity to make legal and financial decisions.
Creating a Will
Creating a will is an essential step in estate planning. If you pass without a valid will, your estate will be divided passed on statutory laws called intestate succession. These laws are designed to distribute your estate in the way that the State of California imagines the average person would want their estate to be divided. Of course, this is an undesirable option that is unlikely to reflect your true wishes in every way. A far superior option is to draft a validly executed will that truly reflects your desires.
It is easy to procrastinate this task and feel like it is something you can take care of in the future. However, tomorrow is not promised to any of us and it is important to make sure that your intentions for the division of your assets are known and enforceable in court, if necessary.
In order for your will to be enforceable, it must be validly executed. California law requires that you be at least 18 years of age and of a “sound mind” to execute a valid will. Having a “sound mind” means that you have the mental capacity to understand that you are creating a will, the effect of making a will, and who your heirs are.
The testator—the person who is making the will—must sign and date the will. At least two witnesses must be present at the time the testator signs the will and must witness the signing or witness the testator’s acknowledgment that the signature belongs to them and the document expresses their will. These two witnesses must also sign the will and an affidavit certifying the mental capacity of the testator to execute the will.
If a will is not properly drafted and executed, it may not be enforceable in California Probate Court. If a will is deemed unenforceable and no valid will exists at the time of your death, your estate will be divided according to California’s intestate laws.
To avoid this situation and ensure that your wishes are carried out upon your passing, it is wise to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to draft your will and help you to make sure it is validly executed according to California law.
Trusts and Estate Planning
Creating a trust can be a critical element in your estate planning strategy. In California, several different types of trusts exist including living trusts, special needs trusts, personal residence trusts, insurance trusts, dynasty trusts, and charitable remainder trusts.
The requirements of forming a trust can be complex and will differ depending on what type of trust you seek to form; however, having your assets held in a trust can help your family members to avoid California’s complicated probate process upon your passing.
Taking Advantage of California’s Private Retirement Plan
California law presents a unique opportunity for its residents to protect their assets and retirement savings from potential lawsuits and creditors through exemption planning in a Private Retirement Plan (PRP).
Assets contributed to a PRP must be used for your retirement and no other purpose. These plans can include profit-sharing plans, union sharing plans, and self-employment retirement plans, if the plan qualifies under California’s Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). A PRP protects both the assets in the trust and funds that you withdraw during retirement.
It is very important to make sure that your PRP is properly drafted and operated. You must appoint a trustee who is not related to you or under your control. If your PRP is not properly set up, it may not be protected from creditors, bankruptcy, or court judgments against you.
Free Initial Consultation with an Estate Planning Lawyer
The knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorneys at our firm would be happy to meet with you to discuss the best estate planning options for your individual circumstances.