As a resident of San Carlos, CA, it is likely the thought of an estate plan has at least crossed your mind. Maybe you thought you were too young to worry about an estate plan, or maybe you believe you don’t really have an “estate.” It is important to understand that estate plans are not just for the wealthy and an estate plan is essential at any age. Life is full of unexpected events. Incapacitation can happen in an instant which is why it is so important to be prepared. No one wants to think of their loved ones having to deal with a tragedy—and the chaos of there being no estate plan in place. San Carlos estate planning attorney Mark Gullotta can ensure your estate plan fully meets your unique life situations. The Law Office of Mark Gullotta offers the supportive legal counsel necessary to navigate through any estate planning situation.
Estate Planning Needs in San Carlos, CA
There are many different life events that will shape the need for an estate plan—as well as the scope of that estate plan. Especially significant is the birth of a child. Would your child or children be provided for if you were to die or become incapacitated? You can name a guardian for your child and distribute assets in your Last Will and Testament. Unfortunately, a will must go through the probate process, which can be lengthy—and public.
Depending on your circumstances, it could make sense to also have a Trust. A Trust can do many things a Will cannot, and vice-versa, so many people have both. If you are further along in your life, you may be planning for business succession, taking care of a disabled adult child, or simply ensuring there will be no squabbles after you pass. Wherever you are in your life—and whatever your goals—San Carlos estate planning attorney Mark Gullotta can help.
Getting Help with Wills and Trusts
Many people find it advantageous to avoid California probate court. Probate can be both expensive and can take a significant length of time to complete. A Will must usually go through probate, although in California there are some exceptions for smaller estates (less than $166,250). If you have no Will and no other estate planning documents in place, the state of California will determine how your assets will be distributed.
If you have a Trust, then your estate will not have to go through probate. It is worth noting, however, that if you want to name a Guardian for your children, it must be done in your Will, rather than a Trust. If you are uncertain whether you need a Will, a Trust, or both, attorney Mark Gullotta can help you make those decisions.
San Carlos, CA Probate Administration
A person who makes a Will generally appoint a personal representative or executor in that Will. This person is responsible for—after garnering court approval—seeing the decedent’s wishes are properly carried out. This involves paying all taxes and creditor claims, inventorying all assets, and ensuring beneficiaries receive their rightful inheritance. Only after the estate is closed, and all distributions have been approved by the probate court, the personal representative can distribute estate property to beneficiaries.
Of course, assets that were used to pay existing creditors—even when Willed to a specific person—can no longer be disbursed to heirs. Administering an estate involves many different things; if you have been named personal representative you may require legal assistance. Mark Gullotta, a San Carlos estate planning attorney, can help you determine the best way to proceed.
Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples
As an unmarried couple in the state of California, you may have wondered what would happen if you or your partner were to die or become incapacitated. Would you have any rights as far as making decisions on your partner’s behalf? Would you be able to keep the assets you may have worked together with your partner to have? Could family members come in and completely disregard your status as a couple—no matter how many years you’ve been together? All of these things are certainly possible, plus as an unmarried couple you do not have the unlimited marital deduction that married couples have.
It is a good idea as a start, for both partners to purchase life insurance, making the other the beneficiary. The life insurance can then be used to pay the estate taxes. It is equally important that both partners take the time to write letters to family members, expressing their wishes. While not legally binding, the letter can help make the situation easier.
San Carlos Estate Planning Attorney for Advance Directives, Powers of Attorney, and Guardianship
Having an estate plan consists of more than a Will or Trust. It is important for all San Carlos, CA adult residents to have an Advance Healthcare Directive in the event of incapacitation. You can name a trusted friend or family member in your AHCD to make decisions on your behalf. These decisions could be healthcare decisions or financial decisions—you will specify the breadth of the powers in your Advance Directive. In addition to a Will and/or a Trust, you might want to consider the different types of Powers of Attorney.
A Durable Power of Attorney is much the same as an Advance Healthcare Directive—but instead of financial decisions the AHCD is used to name a trusted person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacitation. The financial POA allows another person to handle your finances if you are incapacitated. Your estate plan might also benefit from another type of Power of Attorney. Many people also have questions regarding California guardianships. To determine which documents you need in your own estate plan, talk to San Carlos estate planning attorney, Mark Gullotta.
How Attorney Mark Gullotta Can Help
At The Law Office of Mark Gullotta, we will always keep you fully informed during the planning process, while answering all your questions in a thorough manner. Probate attorney Mark Gullotta offers upfront pricing and a comfortable experience. Contact San Carlos estate planning attorney Mark Gullotta today to schedule a comprehensive evaluation of all your estate planning needs.