Some Common Estate Planning Questions Our Clients Ask
Simon Law has extensive experience helping our clients establish their estate plans. Our lawyers focus on establishing estate plans uniquely tailored to each of our clients’ needs. The frequently asked questions and brief answers below may be useful in answering some concerns you may have about estate planning. For legal advice and estate planning advocacy, please call us to arrange a consultation to discuss your specific situation.
What is estate planning?
Estate planning is a process involved in creating an inventory of your assets and debts, considering what type of medical treatment you wish to have if you suddenly become incapacitated, choosing a trusted agent to not only act on your behalf to ensure your end-of-life medical treatment is followed but also to act on your behalf to take care of your business and financial affairs. The process includes determining who you wish to act as your executor of your estate when you die to distribute your assets to beneficiaries you designate. If you have children, you may also nominate a guardian to raise your children if you and the other parent die.
All that to say estate planning is the process of drafting important legal documents such as your power of attorney, advance health care directive, a will and sometimes, a trust. This can be a difficult process without the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney to guide you and ensure your documents are drafted to stand the test of time.
How does my estate plan help me care for my children?
In your estate plan, you will draft a will. In the will, you can nominate your choice for guardian of your underage children. Your estate plan may also include creating a trust to lodge assets for the benefit of your children in the future. Your trust may incorporate specific instructions about what age your child may receive their inheritance and how it may be used. For example, you may say your child may receive a portion of their inheritance at the age of 18, and it must be used to fund their higher education. At the age of 35, they may receive the balance of their inheritance specifically to purchase their home.
If your child has special needs and may require public benefits, putting their inheritance in a special needs trust can ensure they will get the care they require when you are gone without jeopardizing loss of public benefits.
How does my estate plan minimize the tax burden for my loved ones?
When your estate planning includes establishing a trust, your loved ones will not have to address the issue of unknown estate taxes in the probate process. Your trust will not be subject to probate. Generally, assets placed within the trust are sheltered from estate taxes after you die.
While there are myriad tax benefits to creating a trust, it is a complicated process and best discussed with an estate planning attorney at length.
How will estate planning help charitable causes further their good work?
There are several ways your assets could help charitable organizations. You may address your favorite charitable cause or organization with a clause in your will. You may bequeath an asset such as a lump sum of money or a significant collection of art or jewelry, for example, to the organization. You may earmark how your contribution may be used.
You may wish to establish a clause in your trust, naming your charitable cause as beneficiary of certain assets or investments. Alternatively, you may establish a separate charitable trust for your favorite 501(c)(3).
Contact Simon Law For Assistance With Your Estate Plan
We look forward to speaking with you. We will answer your specific questions about estate planning and help you on your way to establishing a stable future for your family. Call (415) 523-7847 for a consultation. You may also reach us online through our secure website.