Los Angeles, CA, Calabasas, Westlake Village and San Fernando Valley Estate Planning Firm
Comprehensive estate planning covers nearly every aspect of life. It begins with protecting yourself and your personal dignity, and extends to protecting your loved ones and your hard-earned assets.
#1 – WHO
Step 1 of the planning process is to make a list of “Who” – those people who will be key players in your estate, whether as administers, beneficiaries, or both.
Who do you Love? Who are the Important People in your life? The success of estate planning rarely fails due to technical errors or legal technicalities. Rather, the success of estate planning has everything to do with the whom of your plan. Think about the following:
For whom is your estate plan? For whom do you either need or want to provide if you are no longer living? Do you have minor children, a parent in need of financial support or siblings who could use assistance? Do you have pets you want to be sure to care for after you pass? Do you have charities that you want to support, either during life or after you pass, or both?
In contrast to conventional estate planning wisdom, the “What” should not be the driving force behind your plan. “What”, i.e. what assets constitute your estate is important, but it is irrelevant if you do not address the who.
For whom is your estate plan designed to serve? Who will be in charge of administering your estate? Who is going to receive your assets if your primary beneficiaries are unavailable?
Making a list of everyone “Who” is involved in your estate is the first step of the planning process.
#2 – WHAT
Step 2 of the planning process is to make a list of “What” – the property that constitutes your estate, including all the various forms it may take.
What does your estate consist of; what form does your wealth take? Are you an entrepreneur who owns your own business? Do you have a sizable amount of money invested in the financial markets? Do you prefer to invest in real estate, whether single family residential or multi-family commercial units? Do you have multiple homes? Do you have assets in other jurisdictions?
How do you hold title? Do you own assets in your name only or do you have partners? Have you invested in life insurance and/or annuities?
Identifying the “What” of your estate is the second ingredient in the estate planning process.
#3 – HOW
Step 3 of the planning process is to work with an attorney to develop an effective plan to take care of the “Who” and the “What” you previously identified.
How are you going to make sure that the “What” of your estate gets appropriately managed for the benefit of the “Who” in your plan? This is the process at work: how can you design your trust so that “Who” and “What” create the outcome you desire?
It is essential to be practical when thinking through the “How” of planning. Should money be given to children outright or held in trust until a specific age? What should you do if you have a family member with special needs? What happens if someone you love becomes disabled? Is there someone who perhaps should not receive a great deal of (or any) money without some outside oversight?
Who would you name to make decisions for you if you could no longer do so yourself? Would the same person handle your finances and your personal and health care decisions? Who would care for your minor children? How would you distribute your assets to your heirs? Would you prefer to spare your heirs the potential cost and hassles of the probate process? Would you like to minimize the impact of estate taxes … or maximize the impact of a charitable bequest?
The final step is to work with an attorney to develop and implement and effective plan to take care of the “Who” and the “What” in accordance with your wishes. There is no cookie-cutter approach to estate planning, as it is unique to each individual and each family.
WHEN YOU ARE READY
When you are ready to schedule a consultation, please call, e-mail or complete the Request a Complimentary Consultation form.
The attorneys at SSS Legal and Consultancy Services provide Estate Planning, Business Succession, and Trust Administration services to the residents of California. We also handle international estate planning matters for individuals and families who may be from other countries or own assets in foreign jurisdictions.
Whether your estate planning needs are domestic or international, we look forward to working with you to develop an effective estate plan customized for your specific needs.