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Berkeley, CA Estate Planning AttorneyWhen a child’s parents die or become unable to provide the necessary care, guardianship will allow another person to step in and ensure that the child is provided for. However, children are not the only ones who may need this sort of care and supervision. Adults who are unable to fully care for themselves, including people who are developmentally disabled or seniors who no longer have the capacity to meet their own needs, can benefit from a form of guardianship known as conservatorship. A limited conservatorship will often be appropriate for these types of individuals, and people who are involved in these types of cases will need to understand their rights and the procedures that will be followed.

Types of Conservatorship

As with guardianship, a person may be named a conservator of the person or a conservator of the estate. A conservator of the person will be responsible for making sure the conservatee has the necessary food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. A conservator of the estate will be responsible for managing the conservatee’s assets and finances, including collecting income or benefits on their behalf and paying any necessary bills or expenses.

While there may be some cases where a conservator will have complete control over a conservatee’s person or estate, most of the time, courts prefer to establish a limited conservatorship. This will ensure that the conservator will provide the necessary assistance for the conservatee, while providing the conservatee with control over the aspects of their life that they are able to manage. This protects the conservatee’s rights, allowing them to make decisions for themselves while also offering the reassurance that a person who cares about them will make sure their needs are being met.

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Oakland Power of Attorney LawyerThere are a variety of situations where a person may need help from others due to health concerns, disabilities, or other issues. In some cases, this assistance may include making decisions about the person’s medical care and treatment or the management of their finances. To ensure that these matters are handled properly, a person can create a power of attorney that will authorize someone they trust to make decisions on their behalf. There are multiple different types of powers of attorney, and in many cases, it is beneficial to create a “durable” power of attorney that will remain in effect if a person becomes incapacitated.

Durable Powers of Attorney for Healthcare and Finances

A power of attorney is a legal document that grants a person the right to make certain types of decisions on someone else’s behalf. The person who creates a power of attorney is known as the “principal,” and the person who will be making decisions for them is known as their “attorney-in-fact.” A power of attorney is considered to be durable if it will continue to allow the attorney-in-fact to decide matters on the principal’s behalf after the principal has become incapacitated. That is if the principal experiences a physical or mental condition that prevents them from making their own decisions or communicating their wishes to others, the power of attorney agreement will continue to apply, giving the attorney-in-fact the power to act on the principal’s behalf.

For a power of attorney to be considered durable, it must include language that states that the powers granted to the attorney-in-fact will not be affected by the principal’s incapacitation. Typically, one of two statements will be used:

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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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San Francisco estate planning attorneyAlthough it can be unsettling to think about the future and what will happen upon your death, it is necessary to ensure your wishes are carried out. Estate planning can help prevent disputes among your family members after you pass away or in the event you become incapacitated. Guardianship is when a court awards someone other than the child’s parent to have custody of the child, manage the child’s property (estate), or do both. Naming a guardian in your will can avoid uncertainty surrounding who will care for your minor children if you are involved in a sudden or unexpected accident that leaves them without a parent to make decisions on their behalf. It is important to note that if your children’s other parent is still alive and has parental rights, he or she must consent to your nomination of the guardian. 

Keeping Your Children’s Best Interests in Mind

There are several factors that you should consider when deciding who to appoint as your children’s guardian upon your death. First and foremost, this is not a decision to take lightly. The guardian should be someone you know and trust. Make sure the person you nominate is willing and able to take care of your children. It also helps if the person already has a strong bond or relationship with them. In most situations, a close relative or friend of the family might be the best choice, as long as he or she makes decisions that are based on the children’s well-being. There are two types of guardians, one of the person and one of the estate. Depending on personal preference, the same individual can be appointed as guardian of the person and the estate, or separate guardians can be nominated for each.

Guardianship of the Person

In a guardianship of the person, the guardian has the same responsibilities as a parent in terms of care for the minor children. In the state of California, this means he or she has full legal and physical custody of the children and can make all the decisions about their care, including the children’s:

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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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