Do I Need An Attorney For Estate Planning?

Before you actually start to prepare your estate planning documents, you need to know how they work and how each document fits in with your overall estate plan. Keep in mind that creating your estate planning documents has long-term consequences for your family. There is no “standard” living trust and, therefore, it is not required that trusts be written in “legalese” (language that is peculiar to the legal profession).

Although no legalese is mandated, it is prudent to use forms which are sufficiently traditional and, if necessary, comply with current statutes. You can easily create your estate planning documentation, in most cases, with the assistance of a registered Legal Document Assistant, that utilizes the latest and most up-to-date self-help software. Doing so, however, necessitates that you educate yourself about your options so that you can make well-informed decisions.

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California Estate Planning

What is Estate Planning?

California estate planning is the process of considering all alternatives regarding:

  • How to avoid probate.
  • How your assets will be managed for your benefit if you are unable to do so.
  • When certain assets will be transferred to others, either during your lifetime, at your death, or sometime after your death.
  • To whom those assets will pass.
  • Establishing arrangements that will meet your objectives if something happens to you or those you care about.

Estate planning typically minimizes potential estate taxes and fees, establishes contingency plans regarding your healthcare treatment and management of finances if you become incapacitated, itemizes how you want your property distributed when you di, as well as provides for the care of your minor or disabled children. You ought to have an estate plan if:

  1. You are the parent of a minor or disabled child.
  2. You have property that you care about.
  3. You care about your health care treatment.

Estate Planning Considerations

A comprehensive estate plan is important to accomplish your estate planning goals. While considering you estate plan, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my assets, and what is their approximate value?
  • Who do I want to receive those assets and when?
  • Who do I want to take responsibility for the care of my minor children if I become incapacitated or die?
  • Who do I want to manage those assets if I cannot, either during my lifetime or after my death?
  • If I cannot take care of myself, who do I want to make decisions on my behalf concerning my care and welfare?
Basic estate planning goals may be accomplished with an estate plan consisting of:

  1. Will
  2. Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
  3. Advance Health Care Directive

If you own real property or your assets exceed $150,000 in gross value, your estate plan may also include a Revocable Living Trust. You may want to review our list of common terms used in wills and trusts in preparation of planning your estate.

There are many people who call themselves “Trust Specialists” or “Certified Planners” or other titles which are intended to suggest that the person has received advanced training in estate planning. California is experiencing an explosion of promotions by unqualified individuals and entities which have only one real goal –- to gain access to your finances in order to sell you insurance-based products such as annuities and other commission-based product. Here are some helpful hints and suggestions:

  • Before considering establishing a living trust or any other estate or financial planning document or service, consult with a lawyer or other financial advisor who is knowledgeable in estate planning and who is not trying to sell you a product which may be unnecessary.
  • Always ask for time to consider and reflect upon your decision.Do not allow yourself to be pressured into purchasing any estate or financial planning product.
  • Be wary of home solicitors who insist on receiving confidential and detailed information about your assets and finances.
  • Report high-pressure tactics, misrepresentations or fraud to the police immediately.
  • Know your cancellation rights. California law requires that sellers who come to your home to sell goods and services (not including insurance and annuities) that cost more than $25 must give you two copies of a notice of cancellation form to cancel your agreement. You, the buyer, may cancel this transaction at any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date of the transaction.

Get help with California estate planning today!

A People’s Choice can save you hundreds of dollars by preparing your estate planning documents instead of an expensive attorney!

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Description of Will Documents (Notary fees additional)Price
Will (individual)$125
Codicil to Will$85
Will package (individual) includes Will, Healthcare Directive and Financial Power of Attorney$250
Will package (couple) includes 2 Wills, 2 Healthcare Directives and 2 Financial Powers of Attorney$399
Other ServicesCall for Quote
Description of Trust Documents (Notary fees additional)Price
Trust or Restatement of Trust (Individual) Trust or Trust Restatement only$275
Trust or Restatement of Trust Package (Individual) Includes Trust, Pour-over Will, Certificate of Trust, Healthcare Directive, Financial Power of Attorney and estate folder$499
Trust or Restatement of Trust (couple) Joint Trust or Trust Restatement only$275
Trust or Restatement of Trust Package (Couple) Includes joint trust, 2 Pour-over Wills, Certificate of Trust, 2 Healthcare Directives, 2 Financial Powers of Attorney and estate folder$650
Special Needs Trust Designed for beneficiaries with physical or mental disabilities. Allows beneficiary use of property held in trust for his or her benefit, without interfering with the beneficiary receiving essential needs-based government benefits.$700
AB Trust Includes joint AB Trust, 2 backup Wills, 2 Healthcare Directives and 2 Financial Powers of Attorney, estate folder.$799
Trust Transfer Deed and Preliminary Change of Ownership (California property) (required to transfer real property into revocable trust)$125 ($25 discount if ordered with trust)
Trust Transfer Deed (Out-of-State property) (required to transfer real property into revocable trust)$150 ($25 discount if ordered with trust)
Trust Transfer Deed (Timeshare) (required to transfer timeshare into revocable trust)$175 ($25 discount if ordered with trust)
Description of Individual Documents (Notary fees additional)Price
Will$125
Healthcare Directive$125
Financial Power of Attorney$125
Codicil to Will$85
Trust Amendment$200
Trust Transfer Deed and Preliminary Change of Ownership (California property) (required to transfer real property into revocable trust)$125 ($25 discount if ordered with trust)
Trust Transfer Deed (Out-of-State property) (required to transfer real property into revocable trust)$150 ($25 discount if ordered with trust)
Trust Transfer Deed (Timeshare) (required to transfer timeshare into revocable trust)$175 ($25 discount if ordered with trust)
Other ServicesCall for Quote