Your estate is personal to you and so should your estate plan be personal to you.
Sometimes unanticipated events threaten to take our hard earned assets. With proper planning, the Danville Law Group
can reduce the risks to you and your family.
A typical estate plan will include a Last Will and Testament, Advance Health Care Directive, Power of Attorney and Trust.
The type of Trust depends on your personal needs.
Last Will and Testament
Your Last Will and Testament (a.k.a. "Will") allows you to distribute and share your assets to whomever you chose.
A Will is a written document that is signed by you and which must be signed by at least two independent witnesses.
A Will comes in many forms and the distribution of your assets will vary depending on your needs. A Will can either
be very explicit or very general or somewhere between. Whether you need a simple Will or complex Will depends on
how you want to structure your estate.
Advance Health Care Directive
If you are unable to make or express your medical treatment decisions, an Advance Health Care Directive (a.k.a.
"Living Will") is a document that instructs your family, friend and healthcare providers on how to best provide
your healthcare. An Advance Health Care Directive is an integral part of your estate plan because you pre-determine
the medical treatment you want and do not leave these critical life and death decisions to your family and friends.
Even if your family "knows" what you want if faced with a life threatening medical condition, if you do not have an
Advance Health Care Directive, there is no guarantee that medical providers will follow your wishes which could cost
your family thousands of dollars in medical and legal fees.
Power of Attorney
If you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions regarding your daily life needs, you may want to entrust
someone to handle your day-to-days needs. For instance, if you own a home with a mortgage, you will need someone
to pay your mortgage payment from your bank account. Through a Power of Attorney you nominate a person of your
choosing to handle your daily affairs and also instructs your bank, insurance carrier, Credit Card Company, etc.,
to allow your representative to make sure your affairs remain in order. Without a Power of Attorney, you family
may be required to incur the unnecessary expense of having a court name a conservator or guardian for you.
A Trust is simply a document created by you that names a person or persons as Trustee and instructs your Trustee
how you want your estate managed and distributed. A Trust comes in many shapes and sizes. By placing most of
your assets into Trust, you can avoid the expense of probating a major portion of your estate and reduce the legal
costs. Depending on the size of your estate, you can probably benefit from creating a Trust. A Trust can be
created to fit your needs and to provide as much asset protection to your family as possible.
When someone dies, your estate goes through probate. Probate is a legal process where the executor of
your estate gathers assets, pays estate debts, taxes and expenses of administrations and distributes
remaining assets to beneficiaries and heirs. The executor or personal representative is in charge of
this process, and probate provides an orderly method for administration of the estate. The executor is
held accountable by the beneficiaries (and sometimes is supervised formally by a probate court). The
executor is entitled to a reasonable fee or commission.
Probate can be intimidating and costly. The Danville Law Group can assist you with the probate process.
Estate Administration and Trust Administration
If your estate is administered in probate court, California law will dictate how and when your estate
is distributed to your beneficiaries. The legal proceedings can be cumbersome and confusing.
If your estate is administered through a Trust, the Trustee is obligated to follow the wishes of the
grantor as stated in the Trust document. The Trustee has duties and obligations to the beneficiaries.
As such, it is important that the Trustee have legal representation to guide him or her in the proper
administration of the trust assets.
The Danville Law Group handles all court proceedings and can help Trustees in the administration of trusts.
We provide comfort knowing that your family will be properly provided for in the manner you choose.
Trust Disputes and Estate Disputes
Sometimes disputes occur in the administration of an estate. When this happens, your Trustee will need
expert and independent legal advice. The Danville Law Group believes that your estate is a lasting legacy
to you and all that you have worked for and that it is a waste to prolong litigation. To this end, we will
seek a negotiated settlement whenever possible. If Court action is required, we will represent your estate
and seek to enforce your desires.
Estate Planning for Medi-Cal
Medi-Cal is a combined federal and state entitlement program that is often utilized for long-term care benefits.
Whether you are eligible depends on many factors including your income. If you are eligible, your estate may be
required to reimburse Medi-Cal if you own a home with substantial equity built-up. The Danville Law Group can
provide you with the tools needed to avoid depleting your estate assets.
2013 Danville Law Group