Careful estate planning offers you the opportunity to ensure the comfort and security of your loved ones after you’re gone. There are many instruments you can use to transfer your wealth to the next generation, to charitable causes that are important to you or to provide for future medical care. Ellen Weinfurtner has helped Southern Californians to create detailed wills that specify their wishes and establish trusts to meet their unique needs and goals for more than forty years. I offer knowledgeable advice and detailed counsel that is designed to give my clients peace of mind about the future.
When a person dies without a will in California, that person’s estate is distributed according to the state’s laws of intestacy. Typically these laws will split assets and property between a surviving spouse and any children of the deceased, but if no spouse or children survive, then other family members stand to inherit. To ensure your estate is distributed to the family, friends or charitable organizations of your choosing rather than the state’s laws, you need to have a will. This legal document allows you to name an executor, a person you trust, to administer your estate once you’ve passed. Wills can also contain guardianship and conservatorship provisions for minor children and vulnerable adults in the event you predecease them. I can help you prepare a will that spells out your unique wishes and conforms to all legal requirements in the state of California. I can also review existing documents to ensure they’re up to date.
While there are many kinds of trusts, all of them are legal vehicles that can hold and distribute assets under the guidance of an individual or organization acting as trustee. With a living trust, you have access to the trust’s assets during your lifetime and then have them pass to beneficiaries upon your death without the need for probate, saving loved ones time and money. Trusts can also be used, in a variety of ways, to minimize estate taxes. You can even set up a trust that conditions payments to your heirs on their age or behavior if you’re concerned about their money management skills. Deciding what kind of trust is right for you and setting it up in a legally enforceable way can be complex and should not be undertaken without the assistance of an experienced attorney. I can discuss your situation with you and recommend a trust vehicle that best reflects your goals.
Whether you’ve chosen to distribute your assets through a will, a trust or some combination of the two, you want a trusted individual to make sure your wishes are carried out. Known as an executor (for wills) or a trustee (for trusts), this person has a great deal of responsibility and can even suffer personal liability for failing to act according to the terms of the trust. As part of my estate planning practice, I offer my clients the option of serving in this role or advising the executor or trustee you select. While there are advantages to both approaches, I strongly urge you to consider involving an attorney in the administration of your estate to ease the burden on your surviving family and other beneficiaries.
Conveniently located in Riverside, Ellen Weinfurtner has been serving Southern California residents for more than forty years in a range of estate planning matters, including drafting and reviewing wills and establishing and administering trusts. Call me at 951-684-2130 or contact me online to schedule a consultation.