An estate plan is essentially a legal roadmap for your future. It allows you to voice your wishes and prepare for unexpected events in advance. A thorough estate plan can avoid headaches, misunderstandings, needless court proceedings, and wasted money down the road.
Many people make the mistake of perpetually putting off this important legal step. While it may be overwhelming to think about the uncertainties of the future, establishing an estate plan is an empowering way to take control and gain peace of mind. The sooner you get started, the better.
At the law firm of Robert G. Petrovich, Attorney at Law, we have helped generations of clients look forward to a more secure future. You can rely on our 35-plus years of experience. Call our Pasadena area wills and trusts lawyer at 626-792-5955 (*must dial 1 plus 626 area code) to arrange a private consultation.
Estate planning doesn’t have to be a chore. We help make the process as easy, stress-free and hassle-free as possible.
A solid estate plan typically requires several elements. Depending on your situation, you may need some or all of the following tools:
Wills and trusts deal primarily with your property and finances. They allow you to establish a legacy, make meaningful distributions and minimize estate taxes. Through these tools, you can also designate a guardian for your minor children, a trustee or personal representative for your estate and other important roles.
Powers of Attorney are designed to protect you from lengthy (and costly) conservatorship proceedings. In the event that you become incapacitated, a trusted person of your choosing will have the legal authority to carry out your wishes — without having to go through the expense and delay of probate court proceedings.
An Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) is designed to state what actions you want (or do not want) to be taken regarding to your health care when you may unexpectedly be in a position where you cannot speak for yourself, such as an accident, severe illness or incapacity. You can appoint an agent and/or provide detailed instructions about your health care wishes using this directive. We recommend all individuals over 18 years of age execute this document, including adult children leaving for college/school, or military service.
The question of how an estate planning attorney will charge a client varies, depending on the service the individual needs. Flat fees are often applied for drafting wills and similar basic documents related to estate planning and distribution of assets. These rates may range between $300 and $1,200, depending on the unique details of the document.
The reason attorneys choose a flat rate is often because they are able to use forms they already have on file as a template, which saves time. This also gives clients a sense of comfort, as monetary issues won’t prevent them from calling or emailing the lawyer with questions, and it saves the attorney from needing to keep detailed records of their time, as they do when billing by the hour.
A Pasadena living trust attorney can help their client set up a trust, which is similar to a will in that it specifies their wishes for their assets but allows the estate to bypass probate. The individual who sets up the trust names a trustee who handles the administration of their estate if they pass away or become incapacitated.
Trusts may be irrevocable or revocable, so it is important for anyone creating a trust to understand the laws that apply to each. With a revocable living trust, the individual may amend the terms of the trust at any time while they are alive. An irrevocable trust, however, cannot be amended once it is executed. Whenever someone is considering a trust in California, it is crucial to discuss their options with an experienced estate planning lawyer.
Transferring assets to a trust is referred to as “funding” the trust. It isn’t necessary for an individual to transfer all their assets immediately, and some prefer to do so over a period of time. The trust cannot function, however, with no assets in it.
Transferring assets into a trust involves changing the title or ownership of them to the name of the trust. Assets that individuals often choose to move to the trust include jewelry, cars, bank accounts, and real property, such as their home.
In addition to wills and trusts, a comprehensive estate plan should include the following items.
Durable power of attorney. This document names a person who is able to make legal decisions, financial transactions, and real estate transactions in the event that the individual who creates it has died or is incapacitated.
Like a cherished car, your estate plan will need regular maintenance to perform at an optimum level. As your life situation changes, so does your estate plan. Periodic updates are essential for maximizing the value of your estate plan.
Our firm handles both the initial estate planning process as well as changes and updates down the road. To learn more, contact us today for a confidential meeting. Our office is conveniently located in San Marino, California.
Based in San Marino (near Pasadena), Mr. Petrovich handles estate planning, probate, business law, real estate, and other legal matters throughout the San Gabriel Valley.