Q: What do I do when a loved one has passed away?
A: When a loved one has passed away, it is important that you determine whether he/she had a Trust and if not, whether he/she had a Will.
If he/she had a Will, then you will need to contact an attorney who is experienced in Probates. That attorney will assist you throughout the Probate process. In addition, the attorney will guide you in getting assets re-titled, gaining access to safe deposits boxes, and everything else that must get done.
If he/she had no Will, then you will also need to contact an attorney who is experienced in Probates. Without a Will, the court will have no guidance about the wishes of the deceased. It will distribute the deceased assets according to state law. The Probate process is difficult to navigate because of the requirements the court has set forth. It is very important that you employ an attorney who is familiar with the Probate process. An experienced attorney will be able to finish Probate more quickly and let you get on with your life.
If your loved one has a Trust, then it is important to contact an attorney to help you prepare the needed documents to distribute and re-title all assets. Additionally, if you are the choosen Trustee then you will want to employ an attorney for guidance. Working with an attorney will reduce the chance that you will breach your fiduciary duty and subject your personal assets to litigation.
Q: Do I need a Trust?
A: A Living Trust is the only option available to avoid probate and maintain your lifetime credit. Each person, in their lifetime, is able to pass a certain amount of money to their children with no Estate and Inheritance Tax (often referred to as the "death tax").
Under a typical Joint Tenancy arrangement, the surviving spouse receives 100% of the assets. However, in this situation the deceased spouse looses his/her lifetime credit. In the year 2013, the lifetime credit equals $5.25 million. A properly created Trust would permit the couple to pass $10.5 million (2013) to their children and not the $5.25 million joint tenancy would.
Q: What is a living trust? Do I need a California living trust lawyer?
A: A living trust is a legal document, which contains instructions about what you want to happen to your assets when you die. It is advisable to choose an attorney who has limited his practice to Estate Planning. These attorneys are up-to-date on existing tax law and trust law.
Q: I have a will. Why would I want a living trust?
A: Contrary to what you’ve probably heard, a will may not be the best plan for you and your family. A will does NOT avoid probate when you die. A will must be verified by the probate court before it can be enforced.
Secondly, a will only goes into effect after you die and does not provide any protection if you become physically or mentally incapacitated. In that event, the court may take control of your assets before you die.
A simple and proven alternative to a will, a Revocable Living Trust, avoids probate and allows you to maintain control of your assets if you become incapacitated and after your death.
Q: What’s wrong with Probate?
A: Probate can be expensive. Legal/executor fees and other courts must be paid before your assets can be fully distributed to your heirs. If you own property in different states, you can be subject to multiple probates from each state.
It takes time, usually probate takes nine months to two years to process and sometimes it takes even longer. During part of the time, assets are customarily frozen so an accurate inventory can be taken. The court has complete control over distribution and the sale of assets.
No privacy. Probate is a public process. This often results in a newspaper publication that the estate of your family member is being probated. This may “invite” disgruntled heirs, family members, friends, or enemies to contest your will.
Your family has no control. The probate process determines how much it will cost, the time it will take, and what information is public.
Q: How do I get started?
A: Call the Law Office of Matthew C. Yu at (310) 891-0016 or for a free consultation right now.
Q: Do you have a convenient way for me to pay online?
A: Yes, you can click here to pay.