Most people do not want to think about death, but it is important to at least consider what will happen when you are gone. In many cases, California’s “intestacy statute” will deal with your property and money in a particular way after you are gone. However, if you plan to leave your money to your grandchildren, you have many assets to leave behind, you want to set up special accounts or trusts, or if you want to minimize the tax burden for your surviving loved ones, you may need to consult with an attorney on creating a will.
Estate planning and will-drafting are one of the services we provide at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth. Our Ventura will and estate planning lawyers will help create a plan for how your money should be used after you are gone, who should receive it, and how it should be spent. For a free consultation and to learn more about these services, contact our law offices today at (805) 643-5555.
Attorneys for Wills in Ventura, CA
Writing a will is an important part of estate planning. In many cases, the default rules in California may be enough, especially if you are married without children. However, if you have grandchildren, ex-spouses, or another complex family situation, it may be impossible to get your money where you want it to go without a will. By using a will, you can decide who should get what portion of your estate, what to do with any leftover money, and whether there might be reasons to leave someone out of your will.
Wills are especially necessary if you want to leave your money to anyone other than your wife and your children. Many people set up scholarships or charitable donations with their estate when they pass away. Others may have significant investments or business dealings they want to continue to have managed for their heirs. Still others may want to place restrictions on their testamentary gifts, such as restrictions that children or grandchildren should not receive money until they reach a certain age or graduate college.
Wills allow us to control what we want to do with our money after we pass. Many of the scenarios already mentioned can be accomplished through the proper wording and planning in a will. Some of the language that goes into drafting a will is very particular, and getting the instructions to mean what you want them to mean may require hiring an attorney to write your will.
Estate Planning in California
Many people see “estate planning” as an alternate name for “will writing,” but estate planning goes far deeper. First, it is important to understand that writing a will is not something you do once and then set aside. Peoples’ financial situations change throughout their lifetime. They may also get married or divorced, have children or grandchildren, or lose family members, and their will should be updated to reflect that. It is important to check with your attorney and perhaps update your will every few years.
Estate planning also includes plenty of other financial decisions outside your last will and testament. In most cases, all money and property transferred through a will goes through “probate” in the courts. This means that the will needs to be registered with the court, there needs to be a period for people to make claims against the will, and the court needs to approve the transfers. All assets transferred through probate are subject to probate taxes and fees. Some shared accounts and other types of investments and ownership rules are used as legal “will alternatives” to transfer property and money without going through probate.
These “non-probate” assets are incredibly important for maximizing the amount of money you leave to your family by minimizing the taxes paid on your money. You may also need to do work to avoid certain “estate taxes” if you have an especially large estate.
You may already have many non-probate assets or will alternatives and not even know it. For instance, transferring a house to your spouse upon your death is usually accomplished by jointly owning the house in both names. Similarly, many joint bank accounts transfer to the surviving owner when the other owner dies. There are other common non-probate transfers, such as life insurance policies, that may also be part of properly planning your estate.
People may consider beginning to give away things before they die, while they are still alive to hand them out. Sometimes, these gifts count toward the money your will would have included in your will, and later legally reduce the recipient’s share of the will. Effectively, the law may consider them advances. Alternatively, you may have to pay tax on these gifts under normal tax rules. Talk to an attorney before making lifetime transfers instead of using probate or non-probate transfers.
Ventura Wills and Estate Planning Lawyers
It is important to plan early and check with your attorney on your estate planning every few years. Leaving your family with the funds to help support them and care for them after you are gone is very important, and anything that important is worth doing right. For a free consultation on your estate planning or will writing, contact The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today. Our number is (805) 643-5555.