Estate Planning Lawyers in California Serving Families Throughout the State
Thinking about planning for your family’s needs after your own death can be intimidating and even frightening but is one of the most loving acts you can perform. Specifying now how you wish for your wealth to be distributed is a great form of asset protection that can save your loved ones from having to deal with probate court as specified under California law. Attorney Debra DeCarli helps families and individuals with all their estate planning needs. She provides a full range of estate planning services. Her practice focuses especially on:
- Non-traditional and blended families—those that include children from a previous marriage or relationship of one of the spouses—and grandparents with custody of children
- Families with minor children
- Individuals who own a home or other real property
Attorney DeCarli provides customized estate planning that gives you peace of mind and provides security for your family, ensuring that your family and loved ones are taken care of after you are gone. Your specific and unique circumstances will be evaluated to determine the best options available to create estate planning decisions that are best for you and your family.
DeCarli Law has two offices. We have an estate planning office in Pleasanton, where the DeCarli family has lived since 1942. We also have a Mendocino estate planning office in the beautiful coastal vacation town of Mendocino. Attorney DeCarli can assist clients anywhere in California and is happy to conduct virtual and telephone meetings. Reach out to our talented legal team today to set up a free initial consultation and see how we can help you with your estate planning needs. Our friendly staff can be reached at (707) 937-2701.
What are Some Estate Planning Basics?
Many people believe that all they need to do to prepare their family for their death is to create a will. But there is so much more that can be done to give your loved ones the best future after you pass on. Estate planning is a process through which you and your family determine the best way to accomplish a number of important goals, including:
- How to manage and distribute your assets during your lifetime and after your death, taking into account gift and estate tax planning and opportunities to avoid probate—a legal, court-supervised process that estates can be required to go through—after your death
- For minor children, make sure that the person or institution you chose will handle finances on their behalf after your death and determine who will be responsible for their personal care in the event both parents pass away.
- For property, you own or acquire during your lifetime—including real estate and personal property like financial accounts—holding title to the property in a manner that takes advantage of methods of transferring the property at your death.
- For life insurance policies and retirement plans like 401(k) plans and IRAs, directing the proceeds to best protect the assets from taxes and probate.
- In the event, you become unable to care for yourself during your lifetime, establish how and by whom your finances and healthcare will be managed.
- Identifying the person or institution to administer your estate after your death to ensure that your wishes are carried out
Going through the process of creating estate plans can be overwhelming and time-consuming when attempting them without the help of a trusted law firm. You also run the risk of having documents prepared incorrectly so your hard-earned assets end up being distributed through probate court. Make sure that you have a valid will and that any trusts and other estate plans are properly established so you can have the peace of mind you deserve by using the resource of our talented and compassionate attorneys.
What Documents Do I Need for Estate Planning?
The ideal estate plan gives your family as much protection as possible from tax law and directs how to conduct your business after you die. For this reason, you might need more than just a will as part of your plans. There are several formal legal documents that can be part of an estate plan. In California, they include:
- Revocable and irrevocable trusts, such as a living trust, AB Trusts, special needs trust, and charitable trust
- Financial powers of attorney also called durable powers of attorney
- Advance healthcare directives also called living wills
- Transfer-on-death deeds
After a person’s death, his or her estate is subject to the laws of the state of residence at death, as well as federal tax and other laws. If the person owned property in another state, the estate could be subject to probate in that state as well. For California residents, there is a myriad of state laws that apply both to estates and financial transactions during a person’s lifetime.
Only by consulting with an attorney can you ensure that your lifetime financial transactions and your estate planning documents comply with all applicable legal requirements. Attorney Debra DeCarli will not only ensure that all documents comply with applicable laws—she will work with you to develop an estate plan that takes advantage of opportunities to protect and preserve assets while accomplishing your goals and wishes.
Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?
If you die or become incapacitated without having an estate plan in place, the decisions that you could have made by creating an estate plan become decisions that are made by the court system.
In your lifetime, that means a court will decide who is responsible for your care, your health care decisions, and your finances if you become incapacitated. After your death, if you die without a will or estate plan, your property will be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. Those laws distribute your assets to specified relatives, or—if you have no living relatives—to the State of California. Close friends, unregistered domestic partners, and your favorite charities will receive nothing. The court also will decide who administers your estate, as well as who cares for and manages finances for your minor children.
In addition, when you create a comprehensive estate plan, your estate will be protected from taxes and probate to the extent allowed by law. It is likely that your estate will incur more expenses and pay more taxes if you die without a will or estate plan in place. That means your heirs ultimately receive much less than they would have under a carefully thought-out estate plan.
Should You Hire a Northern California Estate Planning Attorney?
If you are thinking about creating an estate plan—or if you have an estate plan that needs to be updated—schedule a free initial consultation with Northern California estate planning lawyer Debra DeCarli. After discussing your situation and wishes, Estate Planning Lawyers in California DeCarli will work with you to develop an estate plan that protects you and your family during your lifetime and after your death. Attorney DeCarli works with clients throughout California and she has offices in Mendocino and Pleasanton. Use the DeCarli Law online contact form or call (707) 937-2701 to set up a no-cost telephone, in-person, or virtual consultation.