Estate Planning

Estate Planning is the process of protecting yourself and your family during your lifetime and after you have passed away. Nobody wants to think about his or her own death or disability, but taking the time to develop a comprehensive plan will spare your loved ones from unnecessary expenses, arguments, and frustrations later. Once our clients commit to putting a plan in place, they find that thinking about what they will be giving to loved ones is a rewarding experience.

At Beckerman Anderson, APC, we do not use a one-size-fits-all approach. We take the time to look at and consider all of your assets, finances, family situation, health, and most importantly, goals. We will then work with you to develop a comprehensive plan to effectuate those goals in the most efficient and cost-conscious manner.

Probate refers to the court-supervised process by which a deceased person’s assets are distributed to his or her creditors and whoever else is entitled to receive it. It is a matter of public record. If a person dies with a will, then the terms of the will direct who is to receive the property. If a person dies without a will, then the property will pass by the state’s default rules called intestate succession. Probate can be a long and expensive process because it is supervised by the court and requires court approval for most significant actions, but there are streamlined procedures now though which can cut down considerably on the time and expense. Most people want to try to avoid probate as much as possible, but for some people, depending on their circumstances, it may be a better option. At Beckerman Anderson, APC, we will consider your specific circumstances and allow you to decide what makes the most sense for you.

The general rule is that in order for property to pass to another it must go through probate unless it is being passed by a non-probate method. Although a trust is perhaps the most commonly known method to avoid probate, there are numerous other methods that can be implemented to avoid probate as well. At Beckerman Anderson, APC, we will consider all of the methods in light of our client’s goals. We find it important when doing estate planning not just to consider who is to receive the property but to look at each asset individually and have a plan in place to transfer it.

Essentially, a living trust is a new entity that is created for the purpose of holding your assets. You will transfer your assets to the trust and they become the trust property. You will also appoint a trustee to manage the property and to distribute it to the beneficiaries according to your wishes. When you create a revocable living trust, you will start off as the trustee and beneficiary and essentially manage the property the same as if the trust was never created. The benefit comes when you pass away or when you are no longer capable of managing your own affairs. In the trust document, you will name a successor trustee who can step in to manage the trust property when you are not able. If you are alive, the successor trustee will manage the property for your benefit without needing to obtain court approval via conservatorship. After you pass away, the successor trustee will then distribute the property to your beneficiaries according to your wishes, whether that is an immediate outright distribution or whether you want the trustee to continue to hold the property in trust until your beneficiaries are more capable of managing their own affairs. Again, no court approval will be needed for any asset that is within the trust.

There are a number of other methods that can be used to pass assets upon your death without them having to go through probate. Some of the most common are:

  • Joint Tenancy/Right of Survivorship – If the property is held by two or more people with the right of survivorship, then immediately upon the death of one of the owners, the property becomes vested in the survivor by operation of law. This can be a very efficient way to transfer property. However, a joint tenant is a co-owner of the property which may not be desirable. It also could create an issue if you want your estate to be split among multiple parties.
  • Time-of-Death Designation – Many forms of financial accounts allow you to name a person who will succeed to the account upon your death. This can be a very effective means of transferring a bank account, but again, depending on the number of beneficiaries to your estate, it could create issues.
  • Life Insurance Beneficiary – The proceeds payable under a life insurance policy will be paid to the named beneficiary in the policy document and, so long as the beneficiary isn’t the decedent’s estate, will not become the property of the estate.
  • Gifts – Although gifting would be something that occurs during life, for some people starting to transfer the assets prior to death is preferable and an effective means of avoiding probate. However, before starting to give away your estate, you must be aware that there are yearly and lifetime caps on how much you can give before taxes will be assessed.
If you are no longer able to manage your own affairs, someone will need to step in to do so. If you have a revocable trust in place, the successor trustee will be able to step in and manage the assets of the trust without court supervision.
However, if you have assets that are not within the trust, the successor trustee will not have the authority to manage those assets. In order to avoid this problem, you can execute a “springing” financial power of attorney which grants another person the authority to act as your agent and manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated. (If you have capacity, you could also execute power of attorney which immediately grants someone else the authority to act on your behalf). Without a power of attorney, assets not held in the revocable trust would be subject to a court-supervised conservatorship, which is an expensive and burdensome process.

Probate refers to the court-supervised process by which a deceased person’s assets are distributed to his or her creditors and whoever else is entitled to receive it. It is a matter of public record. If a person dies with a will, then the terms of the will direct who is to receive the property. If a person dies without a will, then the property will pass by the state’s default rules called intestate succession. Probate can be a long and expensive process because it is supervised by the court and requires court approval for most significant actions, but there are streamlined procedures now though which can cut down considerably on the time and expense. Most people want to try to avoid probate as much as possible, but for some people, depending on their circumstances, it may be a better option. At Beckerman Anderson, APC, we will consider your specific circumstances and allow you to decide what makes the most sense for you.

The general rule is that in order for property to pass to another it must go through probate unless it is being passed by a non-probate method. Although a trust is perhaps the most commonly known method to avoid probate, there are numerous other methods that can be implemented to avoid probate as well. At Beckerman Anderson, APC, we will consider all of the methods in light of our client’s goals. We find it important when doing estate planning not just to consider who is to receive the property but to look at each asset individually and have a plan in place to transfer it.

Essentially, a living trust is a new entity that is created for the purpose of holding your assets. You will transfer your assets to the trust and they become the trust property. You will also appoint a trustee to manage the property and to distribute it to the beneficiaries according to your wishes. When you create a revocable living trust, you will start off as the trustee and beneficiary and essentially manage the property the same as if the trust was never created. The benefit comes when you pass away or when you are no longer capable of managing your own affairs. In the trust document, you will name a successor trustee who can step in to manage the trust property when you are not able. If you are alive, the successor trustee will manage the property for your benefit without needing to obtain court approval via conservatorship. After you pass away, the successor trustee will then distribute the property to your beneficiaries according to your wishes, whether that is an immediate outright distribution or whether you want the trustee to continue to hold the property in trust until your beneficiaries are more capable of managing their own affairs. Again, no court approval will be needed for any asset that is within the trust.

There are a number of other methods that can be used to pass assets upon your death without them having to go through probate. Some of the most common are:

  • Joint Tenancy/Right of Survivorship – If the property is held by two or more people with the right of survivorship, then immediately upon the death of one of the owners, the property becomes vested in the survivor by operation of law. This can be a very efficient way to transfer property. However, a joint tenant is a co-owner of the property which may not be desirable. It also could create an issue if you want your estate to be split among multiple parties.
  • Time-of-Death Designation – Many forms of financial accounts allow you to name a person who will succeed to the account upon your death. This can be a very effective means of transferring a bank account, but again, depending on the number of beneficiaries to your estate, it could create issues.
  • Life Insurance Beneficiary – The proceeds payable under a life insurance policy will be paid to the named beneficiary in the policy document and, so long as the beneficiary isn’t the decedent’s estate, will not become the property of the estate.
  • Gifts – Although gifting would be something that occurs during life, for some people starting to transfer the assets prior to death is preferable and an effective means of avoiding probate. However, before starting to give away your estate, you must be aware that there are yearly and lifetime caps on how much you can give before taxes will be assessed.
In the event a person becomes unable to make medical decisions for himself or herself, a Health Care Directive serves two functions: First, it designates an agent who will be authorized to make medical decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person. Second, it provides guidance to the agent as to the incapacitated person’s preferences regarding his or her health care.

Estate Planning

A Team Based on Trust and Communication

Place Your Trust In Beckerman Anderson

You lose nothing by contacting us to discuss your case.

Your first consultation with our firm is free.

Get the help you need starting today.

Call Us At 949-409-4299

OR

Schedule a Free and Confidential Case Review

Contact Us