An individualized life and after death plan that contemplates ones wishes under certain circumstances and the distribution of a person’s assets no matter how large or small. The set of documents typically include a Trust, Certification of Trust, Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directive, and other documents to make the transfer
The timeline can range anywhere from one to three months. We begin drafting immediately after we have our initial strategy session and sign our engagement letter as attorney and client. If we determine we need more information we will send you home with a bit of homework and meet again for review of your drafts. We will discuss all that has been completed and determine if we need to make any revisions. Once we have our finals complete we schedule a time for notarizing and signing your estate plan. Should you have a need to complete an estate plan sooner than our timeframe we can make those accommodations with an additional fee.
Yes, it is possible to complete a do-it-yourself (DIY) estate plan, but bear in mind that even those with fairly sophisticated skill think twice before venturing beyond their area of expertise. The risk of doing your own estate plan or generating a plan from an automated online form can be significant, resulting in the potential for an invalid or incorrect distribution or even worse an invalid document that ultimately results in the need for probate.
At Credence Counsel our standard estate planning package starts at $2,500 for single people and $3,500 for married couples. This price also includes the research of title into one real estate holding, drafting, and recording one property into the trust.
In our initial consultation we will be able to assess your needs and determine if your plan will require more or less than our standard estate planning package.
Generally all fees for service are finalized at the time the estate plan is signed and established. If you wish to opt into our annual or biennial review plan we will follow up with you and schedule a time to discuss any life changes and how those may or may not affect the estate plan in place. The fee related to this follow up strategy session is assessed and charged at the time of the session.
Having an estate plan provides peace of mind and relief in several ways, including: (i) avoiding probate rules of distribution and the associated fees; (ii) making your own wishes on who and how choices should be made for you if you lose your mental or physical abilities; (iii) potential for tax mitigation if applicable to your estate; (iv) dictating how and who will receive your assets when you are no longer here; (v) potential to prevent foreseeable disagreements between loved ones after your passing; (vi) allows a means and incorporation for business succession planning; and more.
A Will and Trust can both be used as a way to make your wishes on who should receive your assets, however, there are several differences between the two.
A Will when compared to a Trust is more of a “simple” document which can accomplish many things including : (i) establish guardianship for your minor children or pets; (ii) designate where your assets will go; and (iii) give direction on final arrangements. A Will comes into effect upon a person’s passing and must go through probate. Although probate must be opened, having a will can simplify the process. Having a Will and a Trust completely eliminates the need to go through probate.
A Trust is a little more complicated however there are many benefits some of which are: (i) privacy by not having to open probate; (ii) management and control during your lifetime; (iii) control over how and when assets are distributed; and (iv) there are several types of trusts for varying reasons. Trusts require a little more work in completing as they must be funded with your assets (i.e., changing title of your assets to the name of the trust), but the benefits significantly outweigh the process of completing.
It is best to get a plan in place the moment you become an adult since life can be unpredictable and the consequences of passing away without a Will or Trust can be detrimental due to default California Probate rules and associated expenses. The following are a list of several other life events that would especially give rise to the need for an estate plan: (i) Opening a Savings Account or other Financial Investment Accounts; (ii) Home and Property Ownership; (iii) Marriage and Remarriage; (iv) Travel; (v) First Child and Each Child After; (vi) Inheritance of any Assets; (vii) Divorce; (viii) Grandchildren and Other Births in the Family; (ix) changes in state and federal law; (x) changes in acquiring and developing businesses; (xi) increase in liability exposure; and more.
If you choose not to establish an estate plan your estate will likely have to go through the probate process even if your estate is relatively small. This process will be dictated by the court and California rules of probate. The fees related in filing petitions and professional fees for completing the probate matter typically far outweigh the costs of establishing an estate plan and you have get to exercise control even when you are gone.
Typically major life events and changes in assets do not occur very frequently, however, it is best practice to do an annual assessment of any changes that may have occurred in the past year that your estate plan does not account for. A list of reasons to update and revise an estate plan are all the same as those stated above in the reasons to create an estate plan. If you are unsure on whether your particular life events require a revision or update to your current plan, please contact us so we can better assist you.
We offer flat rate pricing for all estate planning services.