Mendocino, California Estate Planning Attorney

Serving Families Throughout Northern California

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.

The office of DeCarli Law is located 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.

Estate Planning Basics

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, making sure that the person or institution you chose will handle finances on their behalf after your death, and determining 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, establishing 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

Estate Planning Documents

There are a number of formal legal documents that can be part of an estate plan. In California, they include:

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 are a myriad of state laws that apply both to estates and to 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 develop an estate plan that takes advantage of opportunities to protect and preserve assets, while accomplishing your goals and wishes.

Why You 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 a court.

In your lifetime, that means a court will decide who is responsible for your care and for 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.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with 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 attorney Debra DeCarli. After discussing your situation and wishes, Attorney 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's office is located Mendocino. She works with clients throughout California. Use the DeCarli Law online contact form or call (707) 937-2701 or (800) 402-4720 to set up a no-cost telephone, in-person, or virtual consultation.

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