Estate Planning FAQ

The decision as to whether you should have a trust or a will depends primarily on the value of your estate and whether you would like to avoid probate. If your estate is worth more than $150,000, and your property is not in a trust, your assets do not have named beneficiaries and they are not held in joint tenancy, you may need a trust to avoid probate.
A Trust is a way to avoid probate. Additionally, a Trust provides your representative (your Trustee) with the authority to manage your assets during your life if and when you are unable to do so for yourself. Finally, a Trust can help your heirs minimize or eliminate taxes on your estate when you pass away.
No. You do not need to amend your trust every time you acquire assets. However, you DO need to make certain that the newly acquired assets are properly titled in the name of your Trust.
Each of these documents contains instructions for health and end-of-life care in case you are incapacitated in the future. Although there are many different labels, the purpose of the documents are the same: 1) the appointment of a health care agent (also known as an attorney-in-fact) to make health care decisions on behalf of the patient and 2) the patient’s instructions for the use of life-sustaining measures and comfort care at a time when they cannot express their wishes independently.
While an estate planning attorney will endeavor to prepare documents that allow for distribution of your assets on your death to your intended beneficiaries including tax and financial planning, the elder law attorney also deals with legal issues that arise because of advancing age. As clients age, they may find themselves in need of supportive services. The elder law attorney can work with them to find and help them qualify for the necessary services and government programs so that they can maintain maximum independence while preparing for the possibility that they will need additional support over time. The elder law attorney can help the client maneuver through the maze of government benefits programs such as Medi-Cal and Medicare and prepare the necessary legal documents so that the elderly and their families can face the issues associated with aging with dignity and independence.


Read more about Estate Planning: Wills, Trusts and Powers of Attorney