Note: When you google “what is estate planning” the top results you will see will be ads from major financial institutions such as Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. You’ll find that their answers typically focus on the transactional and functional aspects of estate planning, with content that’s so dry that it may turn you off from proceeding further.

Estate Planning Can Be Enjoyable With The Right Advisors

Fortunately, there are better options that can get you excited about the estate planning process, as well as give you complete confidence that your estate will be handled according to your wishes. Your best course of action is to work with a California legal firm that specializes in—and is passionate about—estate planning.

At Gomez Edwards Law Group, we understand our clients’ mindset and take the time to explain the process in a way that eliminates stress. We know that virtually everyone has been taught to work hard so that they can have the house, the car and the material comforts that they desire. However, they don’t learn until much later how to protect what they have worked so hard to accumulate. Our role is to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible. We care about our clients and will do everything possible to ensure they are comfortable and understand how estate plans are designed to meet their needs

Estate Planning Benefits Everyone, Not Just the Wealthy

One of the greatest misconceptions about estate planning is that it is only for the super-wealthy. That is just not the case.

“Whether your assets are large or small, you will benefit from taking the time to go through the estate planning process.”

Benefits of Estate Planning

Creating an estate plan is your opportunity to make decisions that will:

  1. Limit the necessity of future court involvement in your life
  2. Limit the potential for conflict if you face a medical emergency, a mental impairment,
  3. Create clarity for your loved ones when you pass away.

In fact, a well-designed estate plan will leave little room for interpretation or retaliation on behalf of your beneficiaries as well as guarantee that nothing is left to chance. If you do not plan effectively, the valuables that you have worked so hard for may fall into the hands of undesired beneficiaries.

What Is Estate Planning?

“Estate planning” is a very broad concept covering a wide range of personal concerns. A well-crafted and comprehensive estate plan will cover topics ranging from who makes medical decisions for you when you cannot communicate with your doctors, to how you want your assets distributed to your beneficiaries.

Better yet, estate plans are so much more: they can be used to build generational wealth, and pass down family values and traditions. Plans can be as detailed or as simple as the creator pleases. In order to make an effective and detailed estate plan, it is important to address the following:

1. Identification of Trusted Individuals. It is highly recommended that you provide instructions for a wide variety of topics including, but not limited to:

  • identifying who you trust and ultimately want to be in charge of your care if you are unable to care for yourself or manage your assets;
  • how do you want your assets to be managed if you are unable to manage your assets;
  • who do you want to be responsible for the care of your children if you pass before they turn 18;

2. Instructions. Once you have identified those trusted individuals, what actions do you want them to take? Are there specific actions you want them to take in managing your assets, managing your care, or providing care for your children?

Perhaps you have very specific wishes for your medical care, or identify specific things you want to make crystal clear never happen. You can leave instructions as detailed as what type of music you would like played at a memorial service. The estate plan is your chance to make your intentions clear: whether that is leaving discretion to your trusted individuals or addressing every single detail.

3. Business plans. If you own or are otherwise involved in a business, you can:

  • lay out what you would like to happen to your shares,
  • direct how you would like to see the business grow,
  • decide who replaces you
  • plan for other similar details in the event of your retirement, disability or death.

These are just a few of the topics that you will touch upon while creating a complete estate plan. It is important to note that estate planning can evolve and fluctuate as your life changes. As your family dynamics, and relationships grow and as life events unfold, your estate plan can be modified so that it grows with you and your life.

What Happens If an Estate Plan Does Not Exist?

If an estate owner becomes incapacitated or dies and there is no estate plan in place, the court will become involved, and either you, or your loved ones will be faced with legal fees that could easily be avoided.

While you are alive and incapacitated, for example, there is no delegation of powers or designation of who should be managing your care or assets until you pass. In order to access your accounts to pay for your care, and in order to interact with your medical team, whoever stands in to care for you will have to seek a conservatorship through the courts.

Once you pass, your loved ones will need to go to court to identify and establish your heirs, your assets, your debts, and complete the administration of your estate. This process is known as probate. This can be a time-consuming and expensive process, but it is necessary to divide and distribute the estate. The estate will pass through the probate process entirely according to the laws of California, and will not be reflective of any wishes that you may have had.

Even when no conflict arises from the absence of an estate plan, your family or friends will still be forced to involve the courts. Court involvement is slow, and can be a painful process even under the best of circumstances. Not only does it impede the speed of moving forward, but it can also cause those we leave behind to be left without closure.

If a loved one dies without specifying instructions as to what to do with their things, family members can struggle with an impossible-to-answer scenario: what is the court allowing us to do, and in this circumstance what would they want me to do with their things?

Sure, we can surmise what they would want, but without an established estate plan in place, surviving loved ones will never know for sure. You can help provide them with that closure by working with knowledgeable Santa Clara estate planning attorneys to draft a solid and explicit estate plan.

Have Estate Planning Questions? Our Attorneys Have Answers — Call Gomez Edwards Law Group Today

After dedicating so much to acquiring your prized possessions, does it not make sense to protect them? Natalie and Lauren are established Santa Clara estate planning attorneys who know what makes a strong estate plan in California. They can help you quickly and efficiently draft a plan that works for you, allowing you to get back to your life faster with better peace of mind about the future.
If you would like to speak with one of our estate planning attorneys, please contact us to schedule your consultation today. 

Legal Disclaimer: The materials contained on this website have been prepared by Gomez Edwards Law Group, LLP, and are intended for informational purposes only. This website contains general information on legal issues and is not a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney licensed in the appropriate jurisdiction. While we attempt to maintain information on this website as accurately as possible, the materials and information may contain errors or omissions, and may be out-of-date, for which we disclaim liability. Gomez Edwards Law Group, LLP expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this website. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
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