Without estate planning, if you can’t conduct business due to mental or physical incapacity, a court appointee will sign for you, and it will be the court, not your family, that will control how your assets are used to care for you through a conservatorship.
Components of an Estate Plan
An estate plan begins with a will or living trust.
A will provides your instructions, but it does not avoid probate. Any assets titled in your name or directed by your will must go through your state’s probate process before they can be distributed to your heirs. (If you own property in other states, your family will probably face multiple probates, each one according to the laws in that state.)
The process varies greatly from state to state, but it can become expensive with legal fees, executor fees, and court costs. It can also take anywhere from nine months to two years or longer. With rare exception, probate files are open to the public and excluded heirs are encouraged to come forward and seek a share of your estate. In short, the court system, not your family, controls the process.
Estate planning does not need to be expensive and can start with a will, term life insurance, and powers of attorney for your assets and health care decisions. Our San Jose based attorneys will provide critical guidance and ensure that your documents are prepared correctly.