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Estate Planning FAQ

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Estate Planning

What is an estate?


An estate is comprised of all of the real property and personal property that an individual who is dead or alive owns. This would include things like your home, bank accounts, investments, cars, jewelry, etc.




What is estate planning?


Estate planning is the process by which a person can provide for themselves and their loved ones through any period of disability and upon death. It enables individuals to designate beneficiaries, minimize taxes, avoid unnecessary probate and legal fees, and care for themselves and loved ones.




Who needs an estate plan?


Anyone who wants to transfer their assets to loved ones, avoid probate fees and legal costs, control guardianship and healthcare decisions, and spare their loved ones from a difficult process after they pass away should establish an estate plan.




How do I make an estate plan?


Please contact Pandher Law Firm and set up a free consultation. We are happy to help determine your estate planning needs and develop a personalized plan to prepare for the future.





Wills

What is an estate?


An estate is comprised of all of the real property and personal property that an individual who is dead or alive owns. This would include things like your home, bank accounts, investments, cars, jewelry, etc.




What is estate planning?


Estate planning is the process by which a person can provide for themselves and their loved ones through any period of disability and upon death. It enables individuals to designate beneficiaries, minimize taxes, avoid unnecessary probate and legal fees, and care for themselves and loved ones.




Who needs an estate plan?


Anyone who wants to transfer their assets to loved ones, avoid probate fees and legal costs, control guardianship and healthcare decisions, and spare their loved ones from a difficult process after they pass away should establish an estate plan.




How do I make an estate plan?


Please contact Pandher Law Firm and set up a free consultation. We are happy to help determine your estate planning needs and develop a personalized plan to prepare for the future.





 

Probate

What is probate?


The term probate literally means “proving”. It refers to a judicial process wherein the deceased person’s will must be validated, outstanding legitimate debts paid, and the accounts and property transferred to the beneficiaries. Probate is a lengthy, costly, public, and emotionally taxing process that can be avoided using a trust.




Do I have to go to probate if I have a will?


A common misconception is that a will is sufficient to avoid probate, but this is not true. Rather, a will must be submitted to the courts and undergoes the probate process for court-supervised administration according to the terms of the will.




Do I have to go to probate if I have a trust?


A revocable living trust avoids probate by specifically instructing the trustee on how to properly distribute the assets versus relying on the probate process to make that determination.




What is the cost of going through probate?


California Probate Code § 10810 sets the maximum fees that attorneys and personal representatives (i.e. executors, administrators, etc.) can charge for a probate. Fees are based on the gross value of the estate and can run tens of thousands of dollars. Even higher fees can be ordered by the court in special circumstances and for more complicated cases.





 

Trusts

What is a trust?


A trust details your wishes about property that is held within the trust and specifically conveys how to distribute the property to your beneficiaries. A trust is a formal and fiduciary relationship where someone, the trust maker (trustor), appoints someone else (trustee) to hold title to and manage trust property for the benefit of one or more people (beneficiaries). Trusts avoid probate because they are private contracts that transfer ownership of your property so that the court does not have to after your death thus avoiding probate.




What is a revocable living trust?


A revocable living trust is the most common type of trust and is often also referred to as a living trust or revocable trust. It is created and in effective when the trustor is alive (living) and allows the trustor to make changes to it (revocable). The main purpose of a revocable living trust is to pass assets from generation to generation without probate.




What is an irrevocable living trust?


An irrevocable living trust is a trust that can't be modified or terminated without permission of the beneficiary as the trustor has transferred assets into the trust and effectively removed all of his or her rights of ownership to the assets and the trust.




What does it mean to fund a trust?


Funding is the process of transferring property into the trust. The trust must hold title to the property. Funding must take place during the trust maker’s lifetime. If there is any property that has not been funded to the trust, that property must generally go through state probate proceedings upon death before anyone can do anything with the property.




What is the difference between a trust and a will?


Both a will and trust transfer assets to beneficiaries, but they differ in how the assets are transferred. A will required going through a lengthy, costly, public process called probate while a trust can be handled privately and effectively.





 

Powers

What is a power of attorney?


A power of attorney allows you to name a trusted individual to make important decisions on your behalf for a specific purpose or duration.




What is a durable power of attorney?


A durable power of attorney is a power of attorney that survives your incapacity. So if you are unable to make your own decisions, your named trusted individual can make them on your behalf.




What is a health care power of attorney?


A health care power of attorney designates a trusted individual to make medical decisions on your behalf.




What is a childcare power of attorney?


A childcare power of attorney designates a trusted individual, who is not a parent to the child, to make medical and other important decisions for the child. A childcare power of attorney generally expires six months after it is authorized. To entrust the care of minor children on a permanent basis, a guardianship nomination is required.




What is a financial power of attorney?


A financial power of attorney designates a trusted individual to make financial decisions on your behalf.





 

Roles

What is a trust?


A trust details your wishes about property that is held within the trust and specifically conveys how to distribute the property to your beneficiaries. A trust is a formal and fiduciary relationship where someone, the trust maker (trustor), appoints someone else (trustee) to hold title to and manage trust property for the benefit of one or more people (beneficiaries). Trusts avoid probate because they are private contracts that transfer ownership of your property so that the court does not have to after your death thus avoiding probate.




What is a revocable living trust?


A revocable living trust is the most common type of trust and is often also referred to as a living trust or revocable trust. It is created and in effective when the trustor is alive (living) and allows the trustor to make changes to it (revocable). The main purpose of a revocable living trust is to pass assets from generation to generation without probate.




What is an irrevocable living trust?


An irrevocable living trust is a trust that can't be modified or terminated without permission of the beneficiary as the trustor has transferred assets into the trust and effectively removed all of his or her rights of ownership to the assets and the trust.




What does it mean to fund a trust?


Funding is the process of transferring property into the trust. The trust must hold title to the property. Funding must take place during the trust maker’s lifetime. If there is any property that has not been funded to the trust, that property must generally go through state probate proceedings upon death before anyone can do anything with the property.




What is the difference between a trust and a will?


Both a will and trust transfer assets to beneficiaries, but they differ in how the assets are transferred. A will required going through a lengthy, costly, public process called probate while a trust can be handled privately and effectively.