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Estate Planning

Most people don’t like to think about dying. That’s understandable. However, no one knows what the future holds. Making plans for your estate now – while you still can – is not only smart, it’s essential to preserving your memory.

Who Needs Estate Planning?

Many clients initially think only large estates warrant the creation of an estate plan. In fact, everyone needs one regardless of an estate’s size. Why? An estate plan goes beyond deciding who will get your grandmother’s prized silver tea set or the family home. Proper estate planning also incorporates your wishes about personal care should you become ill or incapacitated. It also avoids probate, a costly court process, as well as saves on death and/or income taxes when your estate is distributed.

When Should an Existing Plan Be Updated?

For those who have already created an estate plan, it’s critical to have your documents reviewed periodically. Not only does the law change, so does life. Children leave the nest and go to college. Properties are purchased and sold. Keeping your trust up to date ensures that any significant changes in the law and/or your life are reflected, preserving your assets and personal wishes.

What does an estate plan include?

Estate planning goes beyond the creation of a will, a traditional legal document that simply outlines who receives what (and how) after your death. An estate plan appoints an executor, a person or entity that will manage your estate, pay debts, organize final tax returns, distribute assets, and nominate guardians for minor children. Many estate plans include:

  • Living Trust Declaration and Agreement
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Advance Health Care Directive
  • Durable Financial Power of Attorney
  • Certified Abstract of Trust
  • Trust Deed – Transfer Real Property to Trust (Recorded w/County Recorder)
  • Preliminary Change of Ownership Report – Filed w/County Tax Assessor to avoid property transfer taxes

What’s the process?

In our experience, no two clients are alike. Nor are estate plans. At Hanley Law, we custom tailor each plan based upon a client’s unique needs and personal wishes. Even so, we’ve found the easiest place to begin is with an initial face-to-face meeting. We can usually wrap your estate plan in just 2 or 3 meetings.

First, we’ll discuss your objectives and answer any concerns. Once we’ve found a plan to suit your needs, you’ll receive an all-inclusive price to create your estate plan.

The second step is to review the appropriate documents that we create on your behalf. We can mail, fax or email these documents to you, whichever is most convenient for you. Any changes will be incorporated and final documents are then prepared.

The final step is signing the finished documents. We provide witnesses and a Notary Public at no additional charge. Once signed, we then process the documents, transferring any real property into your Living Trust to avoid probate. You’ll receive the documents for your records, and we can keep the originals for safe-keeping at no extra cost. Of course, if you ever have a question about your trust, we’re here to answer them via phone.

Other Estate Planning Services We Offer

  • Estate Plans – creating new ones or revising and amending out-of-date documents
  • Wills & Living Trusts (Irrevocable, Revocable. Special Needs)
  • Asset Protection/Probate Avoidance
  • Conservatorship or other special needs trusts
  • Inheriting Property
  • Elder Law and Qualifying for Medi-Cal
  • Powers of Attorney (financial/durable powers of attorney, living wills, & advance health care directives)
  • Probate Administration
  • Trust Administration
  • Estate Loans for Trusts & Probate