Oceanside Estate Planning Attorney

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Creating an estate plan is essential for protecting your assets and allowing your loved ones to carry out your final wishes after your passing. A legally sound estate plan is essential for ensuring that these wishes are properly acted upon, preventing later objections or challenges from outside parties. In Oceanside, Paul V. L. Campo, Attorney At Law, can help evaluate your estate plan and ensure its legitimacy for later use.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the process of creating a detailed disbursement plan for one’s assets upon their death. These plans typically include a living will or trust, a designated power of attorney, and any specific medical directions that should be taken if the person making the will is unable to make those decisions. This estate plan outlines who will receive which assets as well as the person who oversees and follows through with the estate plan, named the executor. These arrangements are often regarded as legally valid by most courts. They are unlikely to be disputed by any contesting parties when properly drafted and handled by professionals like estate planning lawyers.

Oceanside Estate Planning Attorney

What Topics Are Covered in Estate Planning?

Estate planning typically covers a variety of different legal topics, particularly those concerned with assets. Anything concerning an estate’s value, including any assets or bank accounts, goes into an estate plan, as does a plan for where these assets go when the estate is divided. When seeking an estate planning attorney, it is best to prepare a comprehensive list of beneficiaries. One should also detail any medical directives or diagnoses that could go into future medical power of attorney classifications.

For example, if someone has a terminal diagnosis that could lead to intense hospitalization, such as aggressive cancer, deciding who will be their medical power of attorney should be solidified before going into an estate planning session. Similarly, those creating an estate plan should decide who will be the agent that executes their estate plan upon their passing. This will ensure that the executor can be properly instructed and notified of their wishes.

What Are the Five Components of Estate Planning?

Each estate varies, and the specific assets that go into a particular estate plan can range as well. The most common and crucial elements of an estate plan include:

  • A Will or Trust: A trust is a formalized arrangement that enables a trustee to handle financial matters on behalf of the trust’s beneficiaries. A will is a legal instrument that regulates the division of possessions after death and can designate guardians for underage children. The difference between a will and a trust is their effective dates, with wills becoming effective after death and trusts activating as soon as they are established. Both can be valuable assets in an estate plan and can help support beneficiaries during the estate division process.
  • Power of Attorney Designations: During their lifetime, a person may represent another in financial matters by using a California durable power of attorney form. A trustworthy friend or family member is designated as the agent and is given these powers by the principal. The agent is bound by the principal’s instructions and has a fiduciary duty to operate in the principal’s best interest. It should be emphasized that the responsibilities assigned to the agent continue even if the principal becomes handicapped because the power of attorney is regarded as “durable.”
  • Medical Power of Attorney: The Medical Power of Attorney form, often called a Healthcare Power of Attorney or HCPOA, gives an individual of the estate owner’s choice the legal right to carry out healthcare wishes. Simply put, they give someone else the authority to make decisions about their medical care. This form can be used to transfer authority to another person when a person loses the ability to make informed choices about their health and medical care. In California medical institutions, a person can designate someone as their “agent,” who will be in charge of making medical choices on their behalf.
  • A Living Will or Advanced Healthcare Directives: An advanced healthcare directive enables a person to designate a representative to make medical choices on their behalf and decide on choices for end-of-life care. The major objective is to specify the person’s preferred life-saving treatment options and to empower loved ones to make medical decisions on their behalf. It combines a medical power of attorney and a living will into a legal document that states choices for medical care, including whether to accept or reject treatment or surgery. It also gives them the option of appointing a designated agent to make these important decisions for them if they are unable to do so.
  • Listed Beneficiaries for Assets: A beneficiary designation identifies the people who will be given ownership of an asset in the event of the owner’s passing. Insurance policies, 401(k) plans, annuities, and other financial accounts are examples of assets that permit beneficiary selection. Beneficiary designations are also necessary for trusts. Recipients may be selected in a Last Will and Testament as well. It should be noted that the definitions of beneficiaries and heirs vary somewhat. Beneficiaries are people who receive the property of a person who passes away because they were designated to do so through a will or trust. Heirs, though they too may be chosen, are those who receive it by right. The identification procedure guarantees that the asset passes to the named beneficiary directly and avoids moving to the estate and going through probate.

These foundational documents are the foundation for any estate plan and can help create a verifiable, comprehensive estate that can likely avoid probate. If, for any reason, parts of this plan are challenged or contradicted by outside parties, contacting legal help can help clear up any baseless or misappropriated claims that might arise.

What Is Probate?

The procedure of distributing assets per a will is referred to as “probate.” The will is accepted as valid at this point, and the designated executor of the will starts distributing the assets to the people named in the instrument. Following the instructions provided by the individual who has passed away, anything from heirlooms and personal belongings to real estate might be divided during this process. Depending on the overall worth of the estate, the probate procedure might not be required at all. The executor of a will and individuals named in it do not need to go through the probate procedure in California if the value of an estate is less than $150,000, but bigger estates do.

Anyone can establish a living trust in California to avoid probate for most assets, including bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, and more. A trust agreement (which is akin to a will) must be written, designating a successor for when the owner of the estate passes away (called a successor trustee). Next, and most importantly, they must designate themselves as the trust’s trustee and transfer the title of their property to themselves. After that is completed, the provisions of the trust will govern the property. After a trustee dies, a successor trustee may transfer it to the trust beneficiaries without going through probate court.

How Much Does Oceanside Estate Planning Cost?

Every law office charges a different service rate, usually based on expertise and location. Depending on whether an estate goes into probate, the state controls the amount of money that an estate planning attorney makes, which varies from case to case. Contrary to most states, California law allows probate attorneys to charge a percentage of the total value of the assets subject to probate as their fee. The “probate estate” is the collective name for these assets. California outlines the percentages in its probate code (Cal. Probate Code 10810, 10811):

  • 4% of the first $100,000 of the probate estate’s gross valuation
  • 3% of the subsequent $100,000
  • 2% of the following $800,000
  • 1% of the following $9 million
  • 5% of the next $15 million

Although it is not required, most attorneys do so because it provides additional, necessary compensation for their services. For a complete assessment of documentation, the charge is $7,000 if a gross estate is $200,000, for instance. These costs apply to routine work involving shared estates. A lawyer may ask the court to approve a higher fee if they have done exceptional work or if there are issues with an estate that call for further labor.

Finding an Estate Planning Attorney in the Oceanside Area

Planning for the inevitable can be stressful for some. However, ensuring the proper division of assets is crucial for the sake of one’s family and heirs. Finding a legal team able to properly create a cohesive, inclusive estate plan for asset division is an imperative step toward securing a trustee’s wishes for years to come. At Paul V. L. Campo, Attorney At Law, we support clients throughout the estate planning process, taking extra care to ensure that all the necessary aspects of the plan are incorporated into theirs. For more information on our services, visit our website and contact us today.

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