Probate & Trust
Advance Health Care
Estate Tax Planning
What are the main goals of estate planning?
The main goals of estate planning are:
- Preserve your wealth for your loved ones in the event of death by avoiding probate, and minimize or eliminate estate taxes.
- Appoint a guardian for your minor child(ren).
- Ensure your wishes are carried out in the event of disability.
- Have some control over distributions to loved ones, especially children, via individual trusts.
Estate planning is a very personal and complex process, and it is important to work with an experienced legal adviser. Contact Jennifer Jaynes to discuss your individual planning needs.
What’s the difference between a will and a living trust? Which one is right for me?
A will is a legal document in which you give certain instructions to be carried out after your death. These instructions generally relate to the distribution of your assets and choice of guardians for minor children. A will does not avoid the California probate process.
A living trust (or revocable trust) is a legal document similar to a will, in that it includes your instructions for what you want to happen to your assets when you die. But unlike a will, a living trust avoids probate at death and prevents the court from controlling assets at incapacity. It also provides a means to transfer assets to your loved ones in continuing trusts, as well as tax planning to avoid paying unnecessary taxes. When you set up a living trust, you transfer assets from your name to the name of your trust, which you control. Legally, your trust owns your assets, and you designate a backup trustee to handle your trust (according to your instructions) upon your incapacity or death.
Every family has a different situation, for which there are different solutions. To explore whether a living trust or a will is right for you and your family, contact Jennifer Jaynes.
What does a trustee/executor do?
A trustee/executor is appointed by you to administer a trust or estate. This person is often a loved one or friend with no legal knowledge or expertise in performing that role. It can be a difficult job and comes with numerous fiduciary responsibilities. Contact Jennifer Jaynes to discuss how she assists trustees/executors during this process to ensure they can comfortably and properly perform their required duties and fiduciary responsibilities during a difficult time.
What is the difference between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust? Which one do I need?
A revocable trust is owned by the individual who created the trust (the settlor) during his or her life and is revocable up until the point the individual is no longer mentally capable of revoking the trust. Upon mental incapacity or death, the backup trustee manages the trust assets for the benefit of the individual during any period of mental incapacity and for the benefit of the beneficiaries in the event of death. The settlor controls the assets during his or her life, and the trust remains revocable until the settlor is no longer mentally capable of revoking the trust or the settlor’s death.
An irrevocable trust, on the other hand, is property that is gifted to the beneficiaries of the trust at the time of creation. It is no longer owned by the individual and, therefore, is not included in the individual’s estate for estate tax purposes upon death. An irrevocable trust is irrevocable upon creation.
Every family has different needs and different goals for their estate. To explore what type of trust may be right for you and your family, contact Jennifer Jaynes.
Do I need an estate plan if I have a small estate?
Many individuals hesitate to prepare an estate plan, because they believe it is too complicated, they don’t have enough assets to do an estate plan, and/or they are fearful of the costs of hiring an attorney. Whether you have a large or small estate, everyone needs an estate plan to ensure they are protected in the event of disability. It is even more important to prepare an estate plan when you do not have a sizeable estate, because your estate will not have the assets to cover legal costs and probate fees associated with the California probate process. Jennifer Jaynes attempts to make the entire process of preparing the estate plan as smooth, easy and understandable as possible. Additionally, she often quotes a flat rate for the cost of preparing a comprehensive estate plan, which allows the client to easily assess the cost at the beginning of the relationship without worrying about the final expense.
To discuss preparing an estate plan, regardless of the size of your estate,contact Jennifer Jaynes.