Nobody enjoys contemplating their own demise. There are more than enough things to be concerned about without worrying about that. If we could live as if we were immortal, we wouldn’t have to think about what would happen after we passed away.
However, since death is inevitable, we should all make plans for it.
Even if you are single and have no dependents, failing to create a will might leave your surviving friends and family with a host of issues. However, expressing your desires in advance will guarantee that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Making the essential arrangements for your Santa Barbara property or “estate,” to pass to the correct people after your death is known as estate planning. A deceased person’s estate may contain valuables such as land, cars, bank accounts, investments, and insurance, as well as furniture, jewelry, and other valuables.
Here’s what to do when you are estate planning in Santa Barbara.
Estate planning basics
Every estate plan starts at this point: decide who needs your support and how you want to protect them. Then, three things should be considered when creating an estate plan: how you want your assets to be distributed after your death, whether you want your heirs to pay excessive taxes on their inheritance, and who you want to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated while still living.
Most estate plans include:
- A will
- An assignment of power of attorney
- A healthcare proxy
- A trust (possibly)
A will, also known as a last will and testament, is a legal instrument that ensures that your preferences regarding your property are honored in the event of your passing. Take note that if you pass away intestate—without making a will—the state court chooses whom among your remaining relatives receives what. Even if you made your wishes known while you were still alive, it’s unlikely that they will be honored unless you include them in a will that is legally binding. This can have very messy consequences with regard to child custody issues, as well as the distribution of assets.
Meanwhile, power of attorney and healthcare proxy both allow someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf. The former allows for financial affairs conducted and the latter allows for your medical condition (if you are unable to decide for yourself.) Making a will is crucial, but choosing a power of attorney is as significant because it affects you while you’re still alive. The person you select to act as your agent must be someone you trust completely, who is aware of your wishes and is willing to carry them out.
On the other hand, money and other assets can be left to heirs through trusts. Trusts are often less complicated than wills. They avoid significant costs and delays because they do not need to be handled in court. In addition, they also avoid some of the substantial taxes that can be levied in connection with an inheritance.
Estate planning can also have the following benefits:
- You ensure your family’s way of life by providing a financial buffer so they can continue living as intended.
- You minimize taxes for beneficiaries.
- You eliminate family disputes since conflicts between family members can be reduced by naming beneficiaries and detailing their inheritance.
- You enjoy peace of mind by knowing the future of your loved ones is safe and secure.
In Santa Barbara, estate planning can be a complex and tedious process. As such, it usually involves a lawyer who specializes in estate planning law. It’s much easier when you are working with an attorney who understands the issues you are facing and can help guide you through the process of preparing a will and other forms of estate planning.
Looking for an estate planning attorney in Los Angeles?
If your legal problem involves estate planning or probate administration, our estate planning attorneys in Los Angeles can help.
At The Law Office of R. Grace Rodriguez, we will work with you to determine your options and advocate on your behalf for the best possible solution.
No matter what your estate planning or probate matter entails, we are here to guide you through the legal process in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and Southern California. Contact us at 818-734-7223 or send a message online using the form on this website. Initial consultations are free.