Law Offices of Maria N. Jonsson, PC Offers Compassionate Legal Counsel
Estate planning can be a difficult subject for many people. Depending on your family dynamics, selecting beneficiaries and naming estate administrators can be an emotional process. At the Law Offices of Maria N. Jonsson, PC, we are sensitive to estate planning's deeply personal nature. Our Brentwood probate and estate planning attorney works hard to provide legal solutions that make estate planning as smooth and conflict-free as possible. All our consultations are confidential, and we offer a comprehensive range of estate planning services.
Wills, Trusts & Trust Administration
If you are just beginning your estate planning, wills are an excellent place to start. Without a valid will on file, the courts will decide how to divide and distribute your estate during the probate process. With a will, you can name beneficiaries, identify your wishes for asset distribution, and name an executor. However, wills do not offer protection from probate fees or estate taxes.
The only way to avoid probate is to establish a living trust. This type of trust is irrevocable and is established while you are still alive. The trust is then managed for the beneficiaries by your trustee. As legal documents, trusts are extremely beneficial when estate planning, and there are several different types of trusts. Other types of trusts include revocable trusts, charitable trusts, insurance trusts, and special needs trusts.
Other estate planning tools that can be used in conjunction with wills and trusts include:
- Advanced health care directives
- Business entity formation
- Cohabitation agreements
- HIPAA release documents
- Marital agreements, including pre- and post-nuptial
- Pour-over wills
- Power of attorney for asset management
- Trust modifications
When establishing a trust, someone must be named as a trustee. Being a designated trustee comes with significant responsibilities. In addition to managing the trust funds for the beneficiaries, you are also responsible for general trust administration. Failure to fulfill your trustee duties is taken very seriously and can result in legal penalties. Attorney Jonsson offers professional trust administration services and is prepared to use her 15+ years of experience to help you.
Why You Need a Probate Lawyer
You may have heard horror stories about the probate process. It is a notoriously drawn-out, complicated, and expensive process. It is not uncommon for probate in LA County to take up to 18 months to be resolved. This is especially the case for those who die without a will or any estate planning in place.
Probate has many different steps, all of which must be adhered to precisely. Working with a skilled probate lawyer can help ensure that all steps are followed and in the correct order. This is invaluable as any mistakes can result in further delays and potential legal penalties.
The probate process includes:
- Filing a petition with the probate court
- Posting a notice in local newspapers
- Notifying beneficiaries and creditors
- Attending probate hearings
- Collecting tax records and other pertinent documents
- Appraising and inventorying the estate
- Paying creditors
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries
- Filing a final account with the court
Please note that this is an oversimplified view of probate in California. To learn more about the probate process, reach out to our Brentwood probate lawyer. We have helped clients navigate CA probate courts for years, and we can use this experience to guide you, too.
We Offer Custom, Responsive Estate Planning
There is no one answer to estate planning. When determining which estate planning tools are best for you and your family, we consider many factors. In addition to thinking about your immediate needs, it is also important to think about your future goals. How do you plan to spend your retirement? How would you like your health care managed if you are incapacitated? Who do you want to inherit what? Are there any family members with special needs or minor children to provide for?
Our Brentwood estate planning and probate attorney is detail-oriented and meticulous when helping clients build their estate plans. We consider all angles and work to provide legal solutions that are both effective and responsive to your needs as they change. We cannot predict the future, but we can be prepared for it.