Estate Planning

Federal and state taxes on gifts and estates can be among the highest of any financial transaction. Estate planning is the management and disposal of an estate by minimizing gift, estate, generation-skipping transfer, and income tax. Both estate and gift taxes usually have exemption limits, meaning you can give up to a certain amount without incurring tax. Many people use the gift tax exemption to transfer assets while they are still living, as part of their strategy to maximize what their beneficiaries receive.

Estate and inheritance taxes usually are based on the value of the taxable estate and are paid before the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries.

What Is Estate Planning?

Everyone has an estate, and it is comprised of everything you own such as your home, car, bank accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, and personal possessions. Estate planning allows you to control how those things are given to the people or organizations you care most about, and provides instructions stating whom you want to receive something of yours, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. In addition, good estate planning should:

  • Include instructions for your care if you become disabled
  • Name a guardian for minor children
  • Detail the transfer of any businesses

People put off estate planning because they think they don’t own enough, they’re not old enough, they’re busy, or they are confused and don’t know who can help them. If you don’t have a plan, your state has one for you which you probably won’t like it.

Don't put off setting up your estate plan

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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.

Estate Planning Attorney in San Jose, California

Between the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be tempting to put off setting up your estate plan. Thankfully, working with an experienced attorney makes taking this important step that much easier. Schedule a free consultation with Mosaic Law today so I can help you gain the peace of mind that comes with having a well-crafted estate plan.