We equip clients with the tools to plan their legacy and protect their hard work while avoiding uncertainty, conflict, and court intervention.
Forming an estate plan is something every adult should consider, no matter their life stage. When you have a proper plan in place, it gives you the peace of mind of knowing that if something tragic were to happen, your loved ones would be empowered to handle your affairs with as little court intervention as possible.
Where do I begin?
New to estate planning? You're not alone. The first thing Californians should know about estate planning is that if you pass away owning property—even with a will—your loved ones will most likely still need to go through probate court. Transferring property to a living trust has many benefits, including keeping families out of court. Check out this short video to learn more about living trusts.
Benefits of Estate Planning
If a person passes away with no estate plan, they are said to have died "intestate." At a minimum, that means that someone must then establish the authority to file affidavits with various institutions to transfer the property of the deceased. If the deceased owned significant property like a house, then transfers must go through probate court. The process can take months or years, turn into family conflicts, and be very expensive. Careful estate planning avoids these negative outcomes that make tragic events even worse.
1. Saves Money
The up-front investment of estate planning is often a small fraction of the potential cost to probate an estate with no estate planning or an outdated, ineffective plan. In California, probate attorneys are generally paid a percentage of the gross, fair-market value of a person’s assets that go through probate court. For example, based on California law, to probate a person’s assets with a total gross value of $1 million, the attorney fees alone could reach approximately $23,000.
2. Avoids Conflict
Unfortunately, few things can tear friends and family members apart like arguments over money and assets. A well-drafted estate plan removes the uncertainty from property division. Your wishes become binding and family fights over money are prevented before they occur.
3. Effects Quick & Private Transfers of Property
Taking assets through probate court is a lengthy process that normally lasts months or even years. Further, because your property is being divided by the public court, a public record is created of your assets, who received them, and any conflicts that occurred regarding the division of property. Property held in trust, on the other hand, avoids probate court so it is transferred privately and with no practical delay.
4. Creates a Plan for Incapacity
Estate planning doesn’t just consider what happens when you pass away. A trust also takes into account what would happen if you were unable to care for yourself at some point during your life. When your property is held in trust, your designated successor trustee can step in and use your property to make sure you receive the care you need should you become incapacitated. This avoids a tragic scenario where loved ones must use their own resources to provide you with care while you are unable to care for yourself.
5. Ensures that Minor Children are Cared For
For parents, often the biggest concern in estate planning is making sure their children would be cared for if the parents were to pass away. Proper estate planning allows parents to nominate a guardian to care for minor children. Further, the parents’ assets can be held in trust and used for the care, education, and well-being of the children until the children are old enough to manage the property on their own.
Our Planning Process
At the McGovern Law Group, we partner with our clients, listen to their goals and concerns, and draft each plan to address their specific needs. We're here to provide peace of mind so that you can walk away knowing that your loved ones and your legacy are protected.
We offer virtual, in-person, and/or in-home meetings where we get to know you, your goals, and the specific circumstances that need to be addressed in your plan.
Drafting Your Plan
You sit back and relax while we draft a plan that addresses your needs, the most recent legal developments in probate law, and a wide range of contingencies that could affect your plan.
There are very important actions you must take in California to make an estate plan valid. That's why we schedule a meeting to make sure all necessary documents are signed, witnessed, and/or notarized.
We're in it for the long run. We'll maintain your file so that we can assist down the road with updates or changes in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.