We Can Help You Plan for the Future
People often assume that estate planning is only for the wealthy or the elderly, but that is simply not true. Most people have assets they want to pass to their children, spouse, or family members, such as property, art, antiques, and money, but this requires a financial strategy to ensure the correct people get it.
At Zahn Law Office, we are here to help make sure that your desires are met and your wishes for your family are made clear after you have passed. Our Ventura estate planning lawyers are here to provide the legal guidance you need to make sure your estate plan is comprehensive and up-to-date. If you have any questions, contact us today at (805) 804-9100.
What Is Involved in Estate Planning?
Estate planning involves protecting yourself, your family and loved ones, and the assets which you have worked hard to acquire during your lifetime. However, depending on your goals for the future, you may need to take a number of different steps during estate planning. A well-designed plan can include:
- A living trust: A living trust is a written legal document through which your assets are placed into a trust for your benefit during your lifetime and then transferred to designated beneficiaries at your death by your chosen representative. It also bypasses the often complex and expensive legal process of probate.
- An irrevocable trust: An irrevocable trust is simply a trust with terms and provisions that cannot be changed by the grantor, which can help protect assets in case you must go into a nursing home, and reduce estate taxes.
- A last will and testament: A last will and testament can be used to provide comprehensive instructions on guardianship, your funeral, asset distribution, and other important matters after your death.
- An advanced directive for healthcare: You can specify in advance what kinds of health care you want and do not want, as well as who should make healthcare choices for you.
- A power of attorney: A power of attorney lets you choose who makes your decisions and manages your affairs and property if you become incapacitated.
Wills vs. Trusts
Every estate plan should have a last will and testament—it’s a foundational document that deals with certain issues, such as child guardianship, that a trust simply cannot. However, when you’re talking about distributing your assets, that’s when you may want to make a choice between a will and a trust.
Generally, trusts are more expensive and time consuming, but they can allow your beneficiaries to skip probate, which is even costlier and can keep assets out of your heirs’ hands for months, or even years. Wills, meanwhile, are easier to craft and amend, but you cannot keep this document private and you may have to go through the probate process.
It’s always recommended you talk with an estate planning attorney to figure out which path is right for you and your family.