Estate Planning is a Savvy Present for the Holidays

Ah, the holidays. This year, 2021, will be especially treasured as so many of us missed spending the holidays with loved ones last year in an effort to keep us all safe and healthy.


With this in mind, you may be wondering: what business does an estate planning law practice have writing an article about the holidays? The answer is simple, and yet complex. Due to the pandemic, we are coming down from an unprecedented and traumatic two years. With the future still uncertain, we all have much to navigate as we move forward from this shared trauma.

This is why we encourage you to make the most of the upcoming holidays  with family, friends, and all of your loved ones.


Estate Planning is a Gift

The loss of friends and family is a shared human occurrence. We experience grief through the loss of a loved one. We endure the stress of  the change in family dynamics. We don’t know how we’re going  to move forward. And most stressful of all, our loved one may have left behind a tangle of assets and debts that need to be gathered, inventoried, paid off, and divided among beneficiaries.

In fact,  the material items left behind by a loved one  can become such a source of stress and strain that we are prevented from focusing on healing from our grief and moving forward. Even the closest and most bonded family can suffer tremendous harm when a loved one passes or develops dementia or Alzheimer’s without an estate plan in place. Siblings will argue over jewelry, artwork, family photos, and the family residence. It is easy for people to have conflicting perceptions of what Mom or Dad wanted the children to do with the family residence, or who should receive the family heirlooms.


Estate Planning Alleviates Stress and Uncertainty 

One of the most amazing things we can do for those we love is to establish an estate plan. In a well-drafted estate plan, our wishes and intentions are clear. We alleviate the possibility for confusion, conflict, and disagreements about what our intentions are.

Not only do we alleviate the stress of figuring out how to pay debts and who should receive what, but we also remove the pressure to take action after a death. When someone passes without an estate plan, there has to be a court order to identify who has the authority to act on the deceased’s behalf, to talk to the banks & have access to funds to pay for a funeral or memorial service, to take possession of a home, to turn off electricity, or to change the name on the account.


Estate Planning Defines Who Should Administer the Trust

 With an estate plan that identifies successor trustees, the need for court involvement is gone. The successor trustee can execute the proper paperwork under the direction of an attorney and take control of the administration of the trust. This lessened degree of pressure gives those left behind the space and ability to breathe and process their loss, without the added pressure of feeling forced to take action.

“An estate plan is an investment that secures a better future for yourself and others” 

Estate Planning Can Help Build Generational Wealth.

 For centuries, wealth has been passed down through generations through various forms of estate planning. When we reference “old money” this is what we mean: wealth that has been built throughout generations. Estate planning with this goal in mind is about minimizing taxes, ensuring beneficiaries have limitations on how freely they can use their inheritance and providing protection from creditors of beneficiaries.

However, An estate plan doesn’t work in isolation. An estate plan is just one component of your overall financial picture and asset management. Estate planning is a critical component of ensuring that your lifetime of hard work passes not only to your immediate beneficiaries, but also that it can be carried down throughout future generations.

Creating Your Own Estate Plan Will Save Your Loved Ones Money


People often focus on the expense of setting up an estate plan, but fail to consider the exorbitant expenses that could occur without one. For example, if you develop Alzheimer’s or Dementia, and a loved one needs authority to manage your assets and your care, there is the expense of obtaining a conservatorship and the ongoing management of that conservatorship. If there is any conflict or disagreement as to who should be conservator, this process could easily cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. Additionally, if you die without an estate plan, California has statutory court and attorney’s fees. These fees are non-negotiable and can take a significant portion of the assets that you leave behind.


Most critically, when calculating court and attorney fees, debts do not matter. For example, if you pass away  with a house worth $1 million, with the mortgage is $900,000, the fees your estate owes will be based upon a value of $1 million, not $100,000. The fees for an estate valued at $1 million are $23,000 to the attorney and $23,000 to the person managing the probate. That is nearly $50,000. If there is no other liquidity when you pass, your descendants may be forced to sell the home, losing the only valuable asset, in order to pay the mandatory  fees.


While paying $5,000 for an estate plan may seem costly now, it is a minimal amount compared to what may be owed later, as discussed above, not to mention the emotional and mental cost of not having the support of an estate plan.


How can you make the most of this holiday season?

For many individuals and families, talking about death or disease is very difficult. This is completely understandable—while such loss is an inevitable eventuality, it isn’t something that is easy to face. It is absolutely OK and normal to be overwhelmed by the prospect of these future events, and to be afraid to discuss them with your loved ones.


However, it is my hope that as we exit the past two years, and as you gather again with your loved ones, celebrating whichever holiday it is that means the most to you, that you use this time of closeness and togetherness to talk about the bigger gifts we can give each other — that love that we can impart to each other by planning for the future, planning for a day that we may not be able to care for ourselves, or for the day that we are gone, so that we can leave all that we’ve worked so hard for to our loved ones, with our intention and desires clear, granting them peace of mind and the space to focus on the love between us.

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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