Why Do Estate Planning?
You may know firsthand in your own life or through your friends or family the disruption that can take place when a person’s affairs are not in order:
- Family members fighting over their inheritance.
- Uncertainly about who will raise minor children who have lost their parents.
- Fears that an inheritance left to a child or grandchild will be lost to creditors, lost in a divorce, or lost because of poor money handling skills or a drug, alcohol or gambling addiction.
- A loved one in a coma or slowly dying in a hospital, unable to communicate, with nobody clearly in charge of making medical decisions.
- An extended nursing home stay destroying the assets of a family accumulated over a lifetime of hard work, leaving little or nothing for a surviving spouse or children.
- Worry about providing for the needs of a disabled or “special needs” minor or adult child.
- Families forced to sell a family home or business because the breadwinner has died without adequate planning, or because the government wants its “death tax,” and there are not sufficient liquid assets to pay.
With proper planning, most or all of these problems can be successfully addressed, providing a high degree of safety and security for you and your family.
Estate Planning Defined
Estate planning is the way to legally provide for your loved ones during any physical incapacity experienced by you while alive and after your death.
Whether you are single or married, young or old, having an experienced lawyer prepare the proper estate plan can help you and your family in a number of areas, including avoiding the time-consuming, expensive process of a Probate proceeding, the need for a Conservatorship if you are incapacitated, or the need for your children to be taken into foster care, even temporarily, while guardians can be located and travel to your children. A solid estate plan might also reduce or entirely eliminate the federal estate tax, otherwise known as “the Death Tax.”
If you are reading this and are considering visiting our offices so we can help you prepare your own estate plan, you are already well ahead of the curve. Most families ignore the necessity of proper planning, and are not aware of the dire consequences of that oversight.
Why You Need Estate Planning
An estate plan is not something that is done once, put in a drawer, and forgotten about. Planning your estate is an ongoing process. Wills, trusts, and powers-of-attorney may often change over time as a result of changes in your family’s personal circumstances and needs. Changes in your family situation, your wishes and desires, births, deaths, marriages, divorces, major losses or gains in wealth, inheritances, and the whims of our national lawmakers can all contribute to a need for regular “checkups” on your estate plan. As admirable as it is to already have an estate plan, the one you have today may not be suitable tomorrow.
In addition to passing on wealth, estate planning also involves the care and raising of minor children. So, even if it may seem like you are too young to be planning your estate, if you have minor children it is never too soon to start planning for their futures.
I am as close as your telephone, fax, or e-mail, when it comes to scheduling a free one-hour initial consultation. I am generally available during office hours, and usually can return after-hours calls, faxes and emails by the next business day.
Attorney Robert P. Bergman, Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law, assists families in the San Francisco Bay Area with Estate Planning, Special Needs Planning for children and adults, special planning for retirement plan assets, and trust administration.