Newport Beach Estate Planning Lawyer
Do You Really Know?
Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt what would happen legally and financially to you, your loved ones, your money and everything else you care about if something unexpected happened to you?
If you have an estate plan and it is out of date, your assets could be lost to the state department of unclaimed property, to an unnecessary and public court process, or to conflict that could ensue.
If you do not have an estate plan, then the state of California has a plan for you, and it’s probably not what you want.
Do you have a plan in place that dictates what will happen to you, your loved ones, your money, and everything else you care about if something happens to you unexpectedly? If not, you are taking a big risk. Regardless of your income and assets, you need a current, well-drafted estate plan in place. A comprehensive estate plan can give you peace of mind, knowing that you are as prepared as possible for life’s unexpected twists and turns. At Morgan Law Group, we will design an estate plan that is just right for you and will keep you and your loved ones out of court and out of conflict. To begin the estate planning process, please contact our estate planning attorney in Newport Beach today.
Nearly everyone has an estate- it’s your home, bank accounts, life insurance, investments, rental properties and life possessions…. Everything you own!
Whether you are married or single, have many assets or just a few, have young children, adult children or no children or are part of a blended family …
Estate planning is for anyone who wants to have control over their own care and finances during a disability as well as the distribution of assets after their death.
About Estate Planning
Estate planning is the process by which an individual plans for the management and transfer of his or her assets both during and after life. When done properly, estate planning minimizes legal fees, taxes, and interference by the state. Therefore, anyone who owns any property at all should work with an attorney to begin the estate planning process.
Everyone Needs an Estate Plan
Most people should, at an absolute minimum, have a will in place. A will can be a relatively simple document that establishes your wishes regarding the distribution of your property. A will can also include other things, however, such as instructions regarding the care of minor children. However, most people need a complete estate plan, which goes much further than a will. Not only can an estate plan provide instructions for the distribution of your assets, but it can help you and your loved ones pay substantially less in taxes, court costs, and fees. To accurately determine your estate planning needs, you should schedule an appointment with an experienced estate planning attorneys in Orange County for assistance.
Benefits of Estate Planning
There are numerous benefits to working with an attorney to draft an estate plan. An estate plan enables you to:
- Provide for your family: Through the estate planning process, you can ensure that your family will be taken care of after you are gone. In addition to leaving assets to your loved ones, an estate plan allows you to do things like care for a family member who has a disability and establish a college fund for someone you love.
- Care for your children: In addition to leaving assets to your children, you can name a guardian in your estate plan to care for your children should you ever become unable to do so yourself.
- Ensure your property goes to the right people: With an estate plan, you can determine exactly where your assets will go after you pass away. If you fail to do this, however, the state will make this decision for you—this rarely has a good outcome.
- Minimize expenses: Probate is expensive and time-consuming. With an estate plan in place, however, you can avoid many of the expenses associated with the probate process.
- Make things easy on your family: One of the primary benefits of the estate planning process is that it makes things easier on your family. If you pass away or become incapacitated, you don’t want to leave your family struggling. By outlining your wishes regarding important issues ahead of time, you save your family the heartache of having to figure things out for themselves.
- Donate to a cause: If you are passionate about a specific cause, an estate plan allows you to contribute to one or more charitable organizations after your passing.
- Plan for incapacity: If you should ever become physically or mentally incapacitated, the last thing you want is your family to be left without a plan. With an estate plan, you can specify your wishes regarding who will make important medical and financial decisions on your behalf should you ever become unable to do so yourself.
- Reduce taxes: With an estate plan, you can minimize the taxes collected on your estate. This will benefit your beneficiaries by allowing them to keep more of the money you leave them.
- Choose an executor: Someone will need to ensure that the administration of your estate is handled properly. When you work with an attorney to draft an estate plan, you can name a person you trust to act as the executor of your estate.
Why You Need an Attorney to Handle Estate Planning
Estate planning is complicated. Therefore, trying to create an estate plan by yourself is often a losing proposition. When you attempt to create an estate plan alone, there is a good chance that you’ll overlook key legal requirements. When you hire an estate planning lawyer to guide you through the process, however, you can rest assured that your estate plan is well-drafted, current, and legally sound.
How Morgan Law Group Can Help
At Morgan Law Group, our experienced estate planning attorneys will work with you to draft a comprehensive and effective estate plan that leaves you and your loved ones protected. When you become our client, we’ll review your situation and determine the most appropriate estate planning documents based on the unique needs of you and your family. In other words, we make the entire estate planning process about you, your goals, your dreams, and the protection of you and your loved ones.
Our emphasis during the estate planning process is on planning for the inevitable changes in life, not just what happens when you pass away. We also understand how busy life can get, so you can count on us to do the heavy lifting for you—that’s what we’re here for.
Frequently Asked Estate Planning Questions
What Are the Basic Estate Planning Documents?
An estate plan consists of a series of documents that ensure the legal protection of you, your family, and your assets. An estate plan usually consists of several documents, each of which serves a distinct and important purpose. Some common estate planning documents include:
- Will: A will, also called a last will and testament, details your last wishes regarding your assets, debts, and expenses. When you pass away, an executor will carry out your will’s instructions.
- Trust: A trust provides guidelines for the management and transfer of certain assets. A trust is a great way to avoid probate administration, which is the process by which your assets are distributed by the court system. Probate can be very time consuming and expensive, so avoiding it is imperative.
- Healthcare directive: A healthcare directive details your wishes regarding healthcare in the event that you become incapacitated.
Durable power of attorney: A durable power of attorney is an estate planning document that gives a person the authority to make certain decisions on your behalf.
How Do I Choose an Estate Planning Lawyer?
When choosing an estate planning lawyer, there are several things to consider, including:
- Specialization: When choosing an estate planning attorney, specialization is important. In other words, you should choose an attorney who focuses almost exclusively on estate planning.
- Experience: Next, the attorney you choose should have plenty of estate planning experience. Generally speaking, the more experience in this area an attorney has, the better.
- Cost and payment structure: Let’s face it—when it comes to estate planning, cost matters. Before you hire an attorney, be sure you understand his or her cost and fee structure. However, cost shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when choosing an estate planning lawyer. Remember, you get what you pay for
Communication: Finally, the attorney you choose should be willing to communicate with you openly and treat you as an active participant in the estate planning process. One way to gauge this is by asking the attorney during your initial consultation whether he or she is willing to share your estate planning documentation with you as it is prepared. Estate planning should be a collaborative process!
What Questions Should I Ask an Estate Planning Attorney?
If you plan to speak with several estate planning attorneys before choosing one, these questions can be helpful in assessing their services:
- “How much of your practice is devoted to estate planning?” Although a prospective attorney doesn’t have to devote 100% of his or her practice to estate planning, it should comprise a significant portion of his or her business.
- “How much estate planning experience do you have?” Even if an attorney devotes all his or her practice to estate planning, this doesn’t mean much if he or she doesn’t have years of estate planning experience.
- “What happens if I need to get a quick question answered and you’re unavailable?” While attorneys of any kind cannot be on call 24/7, it’s reasonable to ask how your needs can be met when you need information.
- “Will you update my estate plan?” No matter how solid your estate plan is, it will need to be periodically reviewed and updated, especially if you experience any major life changes or new laws are passed. The attorney you choose should have a system in place for reviewing and be willing to update your estate plan as often as is necessary.
- “Are all of your fees flat fees? How do you charge for ongoing work after the initial completion of my estate plan documents?” Although money shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when choosing an estate planning lawyer, you should ask about fee structures and how you may be charged if you have questions years later or questions about something other than your estate plan during your initial consultation. It’s important for you and your attorney to be on the same page when it comes to fees.
- “Can you prepare comprehensive plans for my children’s care if something happens to me?” If you have children, it’s important to have an estate planning lawyer to expertly manage the process of naming both short- and long-term guardians, as well as creating specific instructions to all guardians and caregivers. You’ll also want to understand if your estate plan can be structured so that the assets you leave to your children are protected in the event of a lawsuit or divorce in the future.
- “Do you have a team in place to work on my estate planning or is it just you?” Depending on the size of the attorney’s practice, you may have more than one person creating your estate plan. If so, you will want to know who will be on the team. If you’re working with a single attorney, ask what plans he or she has in place if they retire or something happens to them. Estate planning is an ongoing process as you go through the stages of your life, and continuity may be important in the future.
What Should I Bring to an Estate Planning Meeting?
At Morgan Law Group, we provide a package of information with full instructions on how to prepare for your Family Wealth Planning session.
These are just a few examples of the documents and information you will need to provide:
- Current financial statements
- Investment, bank, and retirement account statements
- The deed to your home or other property you own
- Current estate planning documents
- Prenuptial or marital agreements
- Retirement plan and annuity contracts
- Life insurance policies
- Contact information for your professional advisors, including your CPA, general practice attorney, insurance professionals, and financial advisors
- Contact information for your healthcare providers
- Contact information for family members, those you name in positions of authority (such as trustees, guardians, executors, and agents under a power of attorney), and clergy members
- List of potential guardians, trustees, executors, and agents under a power of attorney
Should I Periodically Update My Estate Plan?
After you’ve established an estate plan, you should periodically review it to ensure that it offers you and your family the maximum level of protection. Unfortunately, at most estate planning law firms, the relationship ends when you sign your final documents. At Morgan Law Group, however, we view the signing of your estate planning documents as the beginning of our relationship with your family. Our experienced attorneys understand that your estate plan should evolve with you and your family. Therefore, when you become one of our valued estate planning clients, we offer a no-charge, three-year review to ensure that as your life changes, so does your estate plan.
Can I DIY My Estate Plan?
People often attempt to draft their own estate plans or use one-size-fits-all estate planning software to save money. Unfortunately, however, drafting your own estate plan can ultimately have the opposite effect. Even small mistakes made during the estate planning process can cost you—big time. When it comes to estate planning, there is simply no substitute for working with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning lawyer.
Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer Today
At Morgan Law Group, we will take the time to get to know you and your family, taking your goals, concerns, and other issues into account as we guide you through the California estate planning process. We also understand that estate planning is a team effort, so our talented attorneys will answer any and all questions you may have as we design an estate plan that meets your needs. If you’re ready to begin the estate planning process, please contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with an estate planning attorney in Newport Beach.
Here’s the bottom line: If you are uncertain of what would happen to you, your loved ones, your money, if something unexpected happened to you … then the first step is to find out exactly what would happen, legally and financially so that you can decide if the current state of your affairs is okay with you or if further action is needed.
A well-drafted estate plan can give you peace of mind, and the sense that you are as prepared as you can be for whatever life has in store.
Your estate plan should give you confidence that during an incapacity and after your death, your assets will be distributed as you intend, and your loved ones provided for.