Probate and Estate Planning. I’m not a millionaire, do I even have an “estate”? What is this probate word and what does it mean? Can’t I just write down what my belongings are and who should get them when I’m gone? You can but you could be leaving your loved ones is a state of uncertainty when they are already grieving from your passing.
So, what is “Probate”? Probate is a court proceeding where issues of transferring property from the deceased to heirs or beneficiaries, determining the validity of a will and resolution of financial responsibilities of the deceased are determined. Do you really want this settled by the courts where your voice could be lost and what you hoped and intended to happen doesn’t and your family and loved ones could spend copious time in court to preserve all of the things you worked to build? Probably not and this is why planning your estate is very essential and this is not just for the very rich, this is to make sure that the assets you’ve developed can end up in the hands of those you wish once you are no longer here.
Should you pass without a will or trust in place it is likely that your money, property, and valued belongings will be distributed according to California State Laws. In addition to this being a complex matter, these distributions may not be in line with your wishes and could leave your family in a really bad situation. A will can govern how your property and belongings are distributed through the Probate court which will verify that your will is in fact valid. A few key reasons to engage an attorney here should be clear but just in case it is not, you need to make sure you will is properly constructed and recorded and having an attorney that is intimately aware of your will can be most useful during the probate process and take a massive burden of your loved ones in what will be a difficult time for them.
While you may think your “portfolio” is pretty basic, you likely have retirement accounts, insurance, and other investments or assets. Typically, the companies that hold these assets have mechanisms to select and transfer to a beneficiary but best to completely understand and have these matters understood so that any uncertainties are mitigated in advance and have a plan in place when the time comes. In California, some assets such as your home may be considered “community property” but would you not feel better being certain and knowing that your spouse will become the owner of the house after you’ve passed?
Another common tool is a living trust. There are do-it-yourself guides that will give you instructions on how to do this but is this something you really want to do yourself. You are dealing with a lifetime of work and value and the protection of those you love and care for following your death. Trusts have state by state particulars that they must comply with to be considered valid and you need to feel certain that the trust is set up by a trusted advocate which is another reason you need legal guidance in this matter.
The Leiva Law Firm is here to help you with a team of dedicated and experienced attorneys that will help determine how to approach your case and get you the best outcome. Call us today at (818) 703-1777 or contact us online to get a case evaluation and protect your claim.