While some have more than others, most people have assets, or things they own. Estate planning is the process of arranging for the management and distribution of your assets after your death or incapacity. Regardless of how much you own or how old you are, Attorney Susan B. Geffen can help you with estate planning so that your loved ones are not left with the confusion and burden of dealing with your estate after you are gone or trying to guess how you would want your assets allocated. The goal of estate planning at our West Los Angeles law office is to ensure that your wishes are carried out and that your assets are distributed according to your wishes while minimizing taxes and expenses.
How Can an Attorney Help with Estate Planning?
An attorney can play a crucial role in estate planning by providing legal advice, drafting legal documents, and helping to ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away. Here are some specific ways that Estate Planning Attorney Susan B. Geffen can assist you in California:
- Drafting a will: We can help you create a legally binding document that outlines how your assets will be distributed after your death. A will can also name an executor who will be responsible for managing your estate.
- Creating trusts: We can help you create trusts that can protect your assets and ensure that they are distributed according to your wishes. Trusts can be set up to help you avoid probate, minimize taxes, and provide for loved ones who may have special needs.
- Establishing powers of attorney: We can help you set up powers of attorney that allow someone else to make financial or medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself.
- Minimizing taxes: We can help you develop strategies to minimize taxes on your estate and ensure that your assets are distributed in a tax-efficient manner.
- Updating your plan: We can help you review and update your estate plan periodically to ensure that it continues to reflect your wishes and meets your changing needs.
As your Estate Planning Attorney in West Los Angeles, we are confident that we can provide valuable guidance and assistance with estate planning to help you protect your assets, minimize taxes, and ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away.
What Types of Assets and Decisions Does an Estate Plan Cover?
An estate plan can cover a wide range of assets and decisions, depending on your specific circumstances and goals. Susan B. Geffen is an experienced attorney who can help you create an estate plan that will protect and distribute the following types of assets:
- Real estate: Your estate plan can include provisions for how your real estate holdings should be distributed after your death, such as a family home, investment properties, or vacation homes.
- Personal property: This can include anything from your car to your jewelry collection. Your estate plan can help you determine who will inherit these assets and how they will be distributed.
- Bank accounts and investments: Your estate plan can outline how your bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and other investments will be distributed.
- Business interests: If you own a business, your estate plan can help you determine how it will be managed and transferred after your death.
An estate plan can also cover a range of decisions related to your personal well-being, including:
- Health care: Your estate plan can include provisions for how you wish to be cared for if you become incapacitated, including who will make decisions on your behalf.
- End-of-life care: Your estate plan can outline your wishes for end-of-life care, including whether you wish to be kept alive by artificial means or if you prefer to receive palliative care.
- Guardianship: If you have minor children, your estate plan can name a guardian to take care of them if you are no longer able to do so.
As your Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney, Susan B. Geffen helps clients understand how an estate plan can provide peace of mind by ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your personal well-being is protected, even after you are no longer able to make decisions on your own.
When Should Estate Planning Be Done?
You can create an estate plan at any time, but it’s best to start as soon as possible, especially if you have significant assets, dependents, or health concerns. It’s never too early to start planning for the future and ensuring that your wishes are carried out.
Here are some common life events that may prompt you to create or update your estate plan:
- Marriage or divorce: When you get married or divorced, you may need to update your estate plan to reflect changes in your marital status and beneficiaries.
- Birth or adoption of a child: When you have a child, it’s important to update your estate plan to include provisions for their care and to name a guardian in case something happens to you and your spouse.
- Significant change in financial circumstances: If you experience a significant change in your financial circumstances, such as an inheritance, sale of a business, or winning the lottery, you may need to update your estate plan to reflect these changes.
- Changes in health or disability: If you or a family member experience changes in health or disability, it’s important to ensure that your estate plan includes provisions for medical care and long-term care planning.
- Retirement: When you retire, you may need to update your estate plan to reflect changes in your income and assets.
At the law office of Susan B. Geffen, we understand the importance of allowing you to review your estate plan regularly and update it as needed to ensure that it reflects your current wishes and circumstances. Our estate planning attorney can help you create or update your estate plan as necessary.
How Often Can an Estate Plan be Changed?
Your estate plan can be changed or updated at any time, as long as you are mentally competent and able to make decisions. It’s important to review your estate plan regularly, especially if there have been significant changes in your life or circumstances, to ensure that it still reflects your wishes and goals.
Here are some common reasons why you might need to change your estate plan with our California law firm:
- Changes in your family or beneficiaries: If you have a new child, get married or divorced, or experience a death in the family, you may need to update your estate plan to reflect these changes.
- Changes in your assets: If you acquire new assets or sell existing ones, you may need to update your estate plan to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
- Changes in your health or medical needs: If you develop a medical condition or your health deteriorates, you may need to update your estate plan to reflect your current medical needs and preferences.
- Changes in tax laws: If there are changes in tax laws, you may need to update your estate plan to ensure that you are taking advantage of all available tax planning strategies.
- Changes in your wishes or goals: If your wishes or goals change over time, you may need to update your estate plan to ensure that it still reflects your current wishes and goals.
Our experienced estate planning attorney in Los Angeles will ensure that any changes to your estate plan are made correctly and that your estate plan continues to meet your needs and goals as you age.
What Happens if You Don’t Have an Estate Plan?
If you don’t have an estate plan, your assets and affairs may be subject to the laws of your state, which may not align with your wishes or the best interests of your loved ones. Here are some of the potential consequences of not having an estate plan:
- Intestacy laws apply: If you die without a will or other estate planning documents, the laws of your state will determine how your assets will be distributed. This may result in your assets going to family members or other individuals who you would not have chosen.
- No plan for incapacity: Without an estate plan, there is no plan in place for managing your affairs if you become incapacitated. This could result in a court-appointed guardian making decisions on your behalf, which may not align with your wishes.
- No tax planning: An estate plan can help minimize the amount of taxes that must be paid on your estate, which can save your heirs significant amounts of money. Without an estate plan, your estate may be subject to higher taxes.
- No guardianship provisions: If you have minor children, an estate plan can name a guardian to care for them if you are no longer able to do so. Without this provision, a court may appoint a guardian who you would not have chosen.
Overall, not having an estate plan can result in uncertainty, confusion, and potentially costly legal battles. By taking the time to create an estate plan, you can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, your loved ones are taken care of, and your personal affairs are managed in a way that aligns with your values and beliefs.
Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer Today
At the law office of Susan B. Geffen, we don’t want you to be left with the hardship and expense of dealing with the affairs and assets of your loved one without an estate plan. Contact Attorney Susan B. Geffen in Los Angeles for expert legal counsel on this delicate but important matter. She is an elder law attorney with a passion for advocating for the elderly and their families for over 30 years. Beyond Estate Planning and Living Trusts, our Los Angeles law office can also handle Conservatorships, Wills, Trust Litigation, and Probate.