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Bay Area estate planning lawyerThe makeup of the average American family has changed dramatically in recent decades. A large percentage of families now include children from multiple marriages. In some cases, both spouses have children from previous marriages in addition to the children the couple shares together. If you are part of a blended family, proper estate planning is especially crucial. Failing to properly plan for your family’s future can lead to arguments, confusion, and unintentional consequences.

Allowing the State to Handle Inheritance Matters Eliminates Your Control

Thinking about how your worldly possessions should be distributed to your heirs is a topic that many people try to avoid. In fact, only about half of adults over 55 years old have any type of estate plan in place. Understandably, it can be very uncomfortable to make plans for a time when you are no longer around. However, failing to plan for how your estate should be managed after your death leaves your surviving loved ones with a substantial burden. Your children, grandchildren, and other surviving loved ones will be left guessing how you wanted your assets distributed. Furthermore, passing away without an estate plan means that you give up the right to dictate how your hard-earned assets are handled after your death.

Dying Without an Estate Plan Can Leave Some Children with Nothing

In a blended family situation, the consequences of dying without a will can be even worse. If you pass away without a will or other estate planning tools in place, your estate will be subject to California’s intestacy laws. This means that you have no say in how your property is distributed to heirs. According to California law, most of person’s estate—including all community property—goes to his or her spouse upon his or her death. When the spouse dies, his or her estate passes to his or her children. This means that your children could unintentionally be left with little or nothing if you pass away before your spouse.  

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Bay Area estate planning lawyerIf your child has a mental or physical disability, he or she may depend on you for help with schoolwork, chores, or everyday tasks like eating and bathing. As a parent of a disabled child, it is important to consider how your child will manage once you are no longer able to care for him or her. If you fall ill or pass away, who will provide the assistance your child needs? How will these services be paid for? A special needs trust is designed to address these types of issues.

How Does a Special Needs Trust Work?

Disabled children may require assistance even after they reach adulthood. Some people with disabilities can accomplish most tasks on their own while others require assistance with many of their daily activities. Whatever your child’s needs, a special needs trust or “supplemental needs trust” can help you plan for a time that you cannot provide this assistance yourself.

A trust is a legal and financial relationship between a trustor, trustee, and beneficiary. The trustor, or person who creates the trust, gives a trustee the right to hold money or property for the benefit of a third-party beneficiary. In the case of a special needs trust, the beneficiary is the child with special needs. The trustee is often a sibling or other trusted loved one. The trustee is responsible for using the money placed in the trust to benefit your child. Funds contained in a special needs trust may be used for medical expenses such as physical therapy that are not covered by other programs, caregiving, transportation, recreation, and more.

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San Franciso estate planning attorneyStarting your own company and being your own boss can be a dream come true for many people. However, being a business owner is a major responsibility. Before embarking on this type of endeavor, it is crucial that you understand business law and also prepare for the future. Although some individuals may not like to think about it, there will eventually come a time when you are no longer on this Earth. Planning ahead ensures your wishes are carried out in the event of your death or if you become incapacitated during your lifetime. Even if you have a family businesses that goes back several generations, it is essential that you set up a plan for transition. A business succession plan is a legally binding document that outlines who receives ownership of your company. A skilled estate planning attorney can help you create this important legal document.  

Protecting Your Interests

A business succession plan gives you control in determining what happens to your company, such as an agreeable price for the business. It may also eliminate the need for a business valuation upon your death. In addition, it can designate the steps for determining how the value will be determined upon either death or retirement from the business and how those funds will be paid. Life insurance may be included in the plan, which means the full policy benefits can be instantly accessible so the funds can be used to pay for your part of the business. This will help protect the business from being sold as a way to cover your interest costs. A will or a trust may also be used to designate how a business will be transferred from owner to owner. Regardless of the transfer method, it is critical that any successor has the proper training, preparation, and access to any documentation or records in order to operate the business successfully after you are gone. 

In some cases, your business partner(s) may purchase your share of the business after you pass away. Selling the business upon your death may be an attractive option since it can provide for your family, and they do not have the responsibility of running the business. Selling to a trusted individual or organization can give you a peace of mind that the business will continue and thrive, as opposed to having a stranger take it over.

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Oakland estate planning attorneyLife is unpredictable, and that is why it is important to plan ahead in case the unexpected happens. For instance, if you or your loved one are involved in a car crash or other type of catastrophic accident, the injuries you suffer may be debilitating, leaving you unable to work or live without assistance. In some cases, they can even prove fatal. The Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive are some of the most common elements in an estate plan. These statutory forms are available online to download for free, and they are often fillable or preprinted forms, which make them easier than the ones most attorneys typically charge for. At the Law Office of Martin Alperen, we can provide you with the links to these legal forms and offer the guidance you need in filling them out correctly. 

Power of Attorney and Advance Medical Directive

Although you may think of estate planning only as a way of carrying out your wishes and providing for your family after your death, a valid estate plan can help with making decisions when you are still alive. Whether an illness or an accident caused you to lose your cognitive abilities, or you are simply out of town on an extended business trip or vacation, there may come a time when you need someone to act on your behalf. 

Under California law, In California, a Power of Attorney (POA) can provide decision-making authority in three main areas:

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California estate planning attorneysThere are many occupations that can be potentially dangerous, such as construction workers, medical professionals, or law enforcement personnel. First responders including police officers, firefighters, and EMTs have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, responding to calls and treating patients who are ill. These workers risk their lives on a daily basis in order to protect the citizens of their communities. Studies have shown that first responders have a greater chance of serious to life-threatening workplace injuries than those working in other industries. Therefore, it is critical for them to think of the future, as difficult as it may be. Creating a comprehensive estate plan that outlines your care and assistance for your spouse or children in the event that you become disabled or pass away can prevent disputes between your loved ones.

Planning Ahead

Since first responders face significant hazards in the line of duty, injuries can be severe. For example, if a police officer sustains a gunshot wound from a perpetrator, it could result in paralysis or brain damage. Serious injuries such as these require long-term care and a victim may even need around-the-clock assistance or life-support machines in order to breathe. When this occurs, a valid estate plan can give directives on medical decisions if the injured person cannot make them on his or her own.     

A few important elements of a California estate plan for first responders include:

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Bay Area estate planning attorney wills and trusts

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our way of life over this past year. Throughout the spring and summer, local and state governments issued stay-at-home orders in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. With more people spending time at home with their loved ones, they may have considered what would happen if they got seriously ill. Important factors to think about include who would make healthcare decisions for them if they became incapacitated or who would receive their personal property in the event of their death. 

Estate planning involves pre-planning or arranging for the management and disposal of an individual’s estate, which is important to make sure a person’s wishes are protected. You may have heard of a will or a trust before but are unsure of what issues they address. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of these documents, an experienced attorney can help you determine which one is appropriate for your situation. 

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