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Oxnard Estate Planning Lawyer

No one wants to think about what happens after they pass, but whether you are older or in your prime, you may want to consider discussing estate planning with an experienced attorney.  After you are gone, your family and friends could be left picking up the pieces of your estate.  Many disputes begin over who should receive what as part of their inheritance.  Properly planning your estate can help you ensure that the right people receive what you want them to receive, that your legacy is properly managed, and that your family is taken care of.

Especially if you have substantial investments, accounts, business interests, or a complex family structure, you may need a will and other estate planning tools to help you with your estate.  For a free consultation on your estate planning, contact the Oxnard estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today at (805) 585-5056.

Attorney for Wills in Oxnard, CA

Writing a will is not necessary in every case.  The State of California’s intestacy statute details the specifics about how property is passed on after your death, and who it goes to without a will.  In some cases, this may fully satisfy your needs, and you should talk to an attorney about whether a will is necessary.  However, if you have a more complex family structure or want more control over how your estate is passed-on, talk to an attorney about writing a will.

A will gives you the power to dictate who gets what property when you pass away.  You can decide to give all of your possessions to your wife, divide them equally among your children, restrict certain people from receiving anything, or give everything to charity.  Though California does allow people to write “holographic wills” themselves, it is important to ensure that an attorney has reviewed the language and intent behind your will.  Much of the language and many common terms and choices will have definite structures that help ensure the will is carried out in the way you intended.  In addition, an attorney can help you ensure that your will is valid and properly signed and witnessed under California law.

Disputes over wills are common, especially if circumstances changed between the death and the time the will was signed.  It is important to update your will every few years, ensuring that your terms are updated to match your situation.  Things can be especially confusing if you get divorced, remarried, have kids, or go through other lifestyle changes, but your will does not account for the changes.

Will Alternatives to Avoid Probate Tax in California

Any assets that pass through a will are known as “probate assets.”  These assets must have probate tax paid on them, which often reduces the overall amount of money that you pass on through your estate.  In many cases, this can disappoint your heirs or make it more difficult to administer your estate.  In addition, probate is public record.  That means that who you included in your will and what you passed to them becomes a matter of public record.  This could be uncomfortable for many who would prefer things like this to be private.

Non-will assets, or “non-probate” assets, are any assets that pass on when you die without going through probate.  Many insurance policies, accounts, investments, and assets have specific rules governing how they pass on after the owner’s death, and no will is needed to dictate what should happen with these assets.

Many of these non-probate assets are things you might already have.  Some common examples of non-probate assets include:

  • Joint property – Anything that you own in combination with someone else might pass to the other owners when you die. Your share in ownership either passes on to your heirs or the surviving owner takes full ownership when you die.  Terms of a joint ownership agreement might dictate how this plays out.
  • Real estate – Like other joint property, your share in real estate might pass to the other owner when you pass. The most common example of this is your home if you own it jointly with your spouse.  There is no need to will your house to your spouse when you pass if they already share ownership.
  • Joint accounts – Many joint bank accounts and investment accounts pass to the other owner when you die.
  • Life insurance policies – Life insurance policies list the beneficiaries. The funds paid through life insurance do not pass through probate and may not face the same taxes.
  • Trusts – Money or property managed by a trust, LLC, or any other entity is owned separately from your other assets. This means that you might not be able to sell or pass on the property yourself, and the trust can continue to function even if you die.

Many of these can be combined to better plan your estate.  For instance, a trust may be named as the recipient of property in your estate and as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy.  Your will could dictate how the trust is to be operated to allow continued support for your spouse or children.

Oxnard Attorney for Wills and Estate Planning Offering Free Consultations

Estate planning is often a complex process which bridges multiple areas of law.  The Oxnard estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth offer free consultations on estate planning and will drafting cases to help you understand what our services can do for you.  For a free, confidential consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (805) 585-5056.

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