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Estate Planning Attorney near Newport Beach: Understand the Basics

Figuring out how to plan for the future can be difficult, especially if you don’t have someone like an Estate Planning Attorney in Newport Beach to help you. Our dedicated estate planning attorneys are here to shed light on the essentials of estate planning, breaking down the differences between wills, trusts, and the myriad of other components that come together to form a comprehensive estate plan. Whether you’re just starting out on this journey or looking to refine an existing plan, our guide will provide you with the foundational knowledge you need.

What is Estate Planning? 

If you’re seeking expertise in estate planning, an attorney in Newport Beach can provide invaluable guidance. Estate planning is the legal means by which you can take control and determine specifically what will happen to your estate if you become incapacitated or after you pass away. It’s a way of easing the burden on your loved ones and ensuring that your wishes for your estate are fulfilled. It’s essentially a gift that you give to yourself and the people you love.

What is included in my Estate? 

Your estate includes your personal property, real property, and all other assets you may own. For instance, your estate may include the following:  

  1. Real Property – Residence, Vacation Homes, Rental Properties 
  1. Bank Accounts – Checking, Savings, etc. 
  1. Investments – Brokerage Accounts, Securities, Stocks, Mutual funds, etc.  
  1. Business Interests – Partnerships, Corporations, Sole Proprietorships, etc.  
  1. Insurance Policies 
  1. Personal Effects – Vehicles, Furniture, Jewelry, etc. 

Do I need an Estate Plan?

Yes, everyone needs an estate plan! Even if your estate is modest, establishing an estate plan will ensure that your estate goes to the people that you choose. Creating an estate plan can also avoid conflict amongst loved ones. 

  1. What documents are included in an Estate Plan? 

Every estate plan is different, however, estate plans usually include the following: 

  1. Trust/Will 
  1. Power of Attorney 
  1. Health Directive 
  1. Living Will 
  1. HIPAA Waivers 

Estate Planning Attorney in Newport Beach: Understanding Wills and Trusts

Although Wills, for many years, have been the epitome of Estate Planning, laws have become more complicated than just a will. As an Estate Planning Attorney near Newport Beach, I can affirm that a will is important to have, as it tells the courts how your assets were meant to be distributed. However, the biggest problem with wills is that they must pass through a complicated process called probate. Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s estate is distributed to the rightful beneficiaries. The court oversees the administration of the will and ensures the will is valid and the property gets distributed the way the deceased intended. In other words, it can be a very costly and lengthy process.  

A Trust is considered its own legal entity. This means that a Trust can bypass the Probate process, therefore the court does not need to oversee the process, and essentially makes it more cost effective for your estate. A Trust is more difficult to challenge compared to a will, as the Trust has been established with direction on who gets what and assets are already retitled into the Trust. Additionally, you can add restrictions on inheritance, whereas a will cannot. For instance, you can require a beneficiary to finish college before receiving their inheritance.   

In summary, while both Wills and Trusts hold their unique value in estate planning, it’s essential to consult with an Estate Planning Attorney in Newport Beach to ensure you choose the most fitting strategy for your specific needs.

What is the difference between a will and a trust? 

A living trust is established when the Grantor (the person creating the trust) is still living. A living trust allows the Grantor to change the terms of the trust or revoke the trust – this is called a Revocable Living Trust. 

Upon your death/incapacity, your living trust becomes irrevocable, meaning no one can change/revoke the terms of your trust. 

What is an Irrevocable Trust? 

An irrevocable trust does not allow for the terms of the trust to be changed/revoked once it has been created.  

Do I need a will if I already have a Trust? 

Yes! Assets that are included in your will are those that are in your individual name at your death and not in your trust, therefore, you will need to create a will that will include these assets. Typically, a well drafted estate plan will include what is called a “pour over will”. 

A pour over will directs that the remaining assets that are not in your trust be automatically transferred into the trust. This ensures that any assets that were neglected to be added to the trust, whether by accident or by purpose, ends up in the trust.  

What is the next step after creating a Trust? 

After establishing a trust, the next step is to fund your trust. Funding your trust is the process of which you transfer asset ownership from your individual name(s) into your trust. Funding your trust appropriately will ensure that your trust has control over your assets, thus distributing the asset to the proper beneficiary. This will also prevent that your asset(s) go through the probate process after your death. The attorney can provide you with instructions on how to properly fund your trust.  

What is a power of attorney? 

A power of attorney allows an individual (the agent) to handle certain assets if you become incapable of handling them yourself.  

What is a health care directive? 

A health care directive allows you to provide direction to your healthcare wishes/preferences, in the event that you become incapacitated/unable to express informed consent.