Fresno and Visalia Estate Planning Lawyer
Protect Your Family’s Future
Planning for the future sometimes means preparing for your death. It’s a complicated and emotional concept to consider, but it’s very important to secure your assets prior to your passing. At the Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we pride ourselves on being able to assist our clients by tailoring estate plans specific to their needs, ensuring that their personal choices, assets and finances are protected per their wishes.
We understand how difficult it is to plan for your own death. By drafting an estate plan, our goal is to take away your uncertainty and give you peace of mind knowing your interests and your family will be protected upon your passing.
If you are interested in drafting an estate plan, contact the Law Offices of Christopher Martens today at (559) 377-7319. Your first consultation is free.
What Is an Estate Plan?
Estate planning is all about planning for the future, ensuring that your estate, assets, and your wishes are passed on to your beneficiaries with minimum difficulties. Without an estate plan in place, regardless of the size of your estate, settling your matters after you die could bring a lot of trouble to the people you care about.
If you are seeking an expert who can help you in preparing an estate plan in California, you must contact the Law Offices of Christopher Martens. Our team of experienced estate planning attorneys has discussed essential considerations about the various types of Estate Plan tools that help to prepare an effective estate plan.
How we can help you:
- Revocable living trusts
- Advanced health care directives
- Durable powers of attorney
- Special needs trusts
- Asset protection planning
A will is an important part of basic estate planning. It is important to know what a will is — and recognizing what happens if you don't have one — is an essential element of the planning process for your estate.
It is a legal document that sets out your wishes concerning your asset distribution and the welfare of any minor children. Whenever anyone dies, the deceased's wishes divide his or her estate or, if there is no will, the estate goes for probate. This means that your estate will be treated according to your state's laws, rather than your wishes which is the reason people always want to avoid probate. Commonly, an estate ruled in probate would be equally divided among the heirs, which may include distant relatives. If there are no heirs listed, then the estate goes to the state.
A will's primary purpose is to designate beneficiaries: the individuals, trusts, or organizations that will obtain your assets. Beneficiaries may include a spouse or a domestic partner in the household, trusts, other family members, friends, and charities.
Benefits of having a Will
A will lets you select your child's guardian. If both parents die, the will can name the person you want to be responsible for a child under the age of 18. You can appoint one guardian for the personal care and management of the child's assets, or you can designate two separate guardians for the different responsibilities.
A Will is also used for estate administration. You appoint an executor in the will, which will be the person or organization that manages your estate. The executor pays unpaid payments, expenditures, and taxes; ensuring that those you appoint as beneficiaries are given your real and personal property; and eventually settles your estate.
Basic Requirements of a Will in California
In California, for your will to be valid you need to be 18 years old or above and of sound mind. You must sign it with two witnesses in front of you. While the state recognizes most handwritten wills, verbal wills are not recognized in California.
ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES
Thinking about a future when your health is not good can be daunting but, having an estate plan with advance health care directives will make sure that your health care wishes are also carried out properly. If you're not in the best state of physical or mental health, you may not be able to tell your family, friends, and health care providers what form of healthcare treatment you want in specific conditions. However, you can formulate your wishes with proper preparation and development of legal documents.
Advance health care directives give guidance to your relatives, friends, and health care providers in cases where you are unable to express your wishes for medical treatment. They are called "advanced" because when you need them you create them in advance of the situation. They deal with health care and give your medical care directives, or guidelines. Anyone may use advanced health-care directives. They make sure your needs are fulfilled in complicated medical situations.
Advance Care Planning Decisions
Often, if you are unwell, one has to make decisions on the use of emergency treatments to keep you safe. Decisions that can come up at the moment may include:
- The decision of using a ventilator (mostly during breathing issues)
- Artificial nutrition (tube feeding) and artificial hydration (IV, or intravenous, fluids)
- Comfort care
- The decision of giving anesthesia
Appointing a Health Care Agent
In case you are unable to express your wishes, your advance health care directives can give another person the responsibility to contribute decisions about your healthcare for you. That person is a health care agent who can also be called:
- An Agent
- The Attorney-in-fact
- A Proxy
- Patient advocate
Our expert attorneys will help you create personalized health care directives that express your desires correctly to your loved ones. If you have concerns about what will happen to you if you become disabled, consult with our lawyer who has experience in preparing advance health care directives. These documents will give you control over your health care if you cannot communicate your desires with health care providers.
Speak to one of our attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher Martens to find out more about advance health care directives.
DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY
A Durable attorney power is one that enables a named individual for artificial life support decisions. It allows the person named to determine, for example, should the person stay connected with the respirator. California's durable power of attorney’s laws entitles the person named to make decisions concerning the care, treatment, and whether to continue life support.
A Power of Attorney (Power Of Attorney) ceases to be effective by law when the person concerned is impaired. In most cases, however, this law nullifies the intent of getting an attorney's power in place, and for the same reason the POWER OF ATTORNEY must be specifically specified as "durable".
A durable attorney power remains in place long though you are mentally incapable of making your own financial or health care decision. We suggest having both a durable health-care power of attorney and a durable financial power of attorney to ensure effective control of your health and assets is important. To find out more, get in touch with our attorneys.
Choosing your Durable Power of Attorney Agent
When you sign a general POWER OF ATTORNEY, you allow someone to handle financial issues on your behalf in case you are unable to do so yourself. It's a lot of pressure to sign someone over. You have to choose someone who is trustworthy, someone who works in your best interests. But you still want someone to be able to bear the burden of handling the assets that you have built over your lifetime. You wouldn't ask your boy, 18, to run your highly profitable business with no experience.
Durable Power of Attorney helps avoid Ambiguity
Life can turn on a dime and dramatic changes in anybody's life may occur overnight. If you have a durable attorney power in place, you can easily settle future disputes about your financial as well as health-care concerns. All you need is a competent estate planning lawyer to prepare your durable Power Of Attorney document.
Protecting the Assets of the Principal
When a patient is required to move to a nursing home for health purposes, the individual's assets will best be secured by a durable power of attorney. Ignoring the need for a durable power of attorney will lead to the payment of nursing home treatment from your property.
Make Important Decisions Along With the Agent
A durable attorney power gives you an invaluable chance to make the most critical financial decisions before you become incapacitated. Although this may sound simple, note that the court will appoint a guardian to manage all of your affairs without a Durable Power Of Attorney.
To learn more about preparing a Durable Power of Attorney in California, speak to one of our attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher Martens.
SPECIAL NEEDS TRUSTS (SNT)
If you have a kid or other loved one with a serious impairment, you've also been worrying about how to ensure they can have everything when they need after your death.
A Special Needs Trust helps individuals who are psychologically or physically impaired to obtain an inheritance such as a home, life insurance, bank accounts, etc. without sacrificing their public benefits. This Estate Planning Method is intended for disabled applicants to gain their rightful inheritance while allowing the beneficiary to receive important government benefits dependent on needs, such as Medi-Cal, SSI, Social Security Disability Insurance, etc.
The party that maintains the trust will assign a trustee who will have power over the trust. This trustee would also supervise his management and disbursement of funds. Assets initially belonging to the disabled person put in the trust may be subject to the repayment rules of Medicaid, but they are not assets given by third parties such as parents.
Benefits of establishing a Special Needs Trust
Creating a special needs trust will bring benefits for both sides. The beneficiary has a way of having financial support without compromising their eligibility for income-restricted programs or services. The person or party who establishes the trust, meanwhile, has some affirmation that the proceeds will go to the expenses that they stipulate.
When a third party places funds in a special needs trust, the party is told that the funds will be used for the reason it intends. For example, parents can put some funds in a Special Needs Trusts for the purpose of caring for their special son to prevent that care fund going to their daughter or vice versa. Special needs trusts are irrevocable, and creditors cannot take control of their assets.
It is vital that the person who establishes the trust or their legal representative look quite carefully the terms of the trust documents to ensure its validity, and to guarantee that the document’s directives and intent are specifically clear. Before the beneficiary turns 65 the special needs trust must be established. With so many requirements, it is important that you seek the help of our experienced estate planning attorney to form a Special Needs Trust.
ASSET PROTECTION PLANNING
Asset Protection is the idea and the techniques to protect one’s wealth. Asset protection is an aspect of financial planning designed to protect one’s assets from different individuals. Individuals and business organizations these methods to restrict access by creditors to certain valuable assets when working under debtor-creditor laws.
Asset Protection helps in a number of ways. Asset protection planning is a preventive legal action which safeguards your assets against potential creditors, divorces, litigation, or judgments. This includes a number of lawful and legal methods that can deter a lawsuit. It can also give you the power to negotiate settlements. Most significantly, in the case of a judgment, this will help avoid the seizure of your estate.
Professional and legal tests are at the heart of every asset protection strategy. Our expert may thus determine your financial position, properties, risks, and personal or family objectives
There are a number of legal strategies that you can apply that provide a range of Asset Protection features. This can range from basic financial privacy to judgment-proof protection of assets like an offshore trust. The preparation is personalized to the individual or family protection seeking assets, risks, and level of comfort. It should be established well in advance of the need to prevent a fraudulent ruling against your estate.
Avoid Probate Court
Probate court proceedings are expensive and typically last six to nine months, locking your finances and property away from your family as the court validates your will and appraises your remaining assets. These assets cannot be distributed to your loved ones until the court has completed their appraisal. By transferring your ownership rights into a revocable living trust, your family will bypass the probate process entirely upon your passing. Our estate planning lawyers can assist you in drafting a revocable living trust and any other legal documentation your circumstances require.
CONTACT AN ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY IN CALIFORNIA
Estate planning is easier than you would imagine. The cost of establishing your estate plan is much more appealing when you see how much money you save over the long term. By careful estate planning, the number of legal problems that can occur after death may also be mitigated. Having a detailed and well-crafted strategy for the estate is a wise way of maintaining control over one's investments, property, and how these will be distributed after death or in the event of incapacity.
Consulting with our estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher Martens based in California is imperative and that is the first call that should be made if you are seeking the help of an expert to prepare a solid estate plan.
The Law Offices of Christopher Martens is available to assist California residents in the Tulare, Kings, and Fresno counties. Contact us today at (559) 377-7319 to schedule a consultation.