Estate Planning: The What and Why
By Stephanie F. Bezner, Esq.
What is an estate plan?
An estate plan provides protection for your family and for your property.
It directs who will receive your assets when you are gone. A proper estate
plan includes a revocable living trust, a last will and powers of attorney
for healthcare and financial matters. Working together, these documents
can avoid the need for a conservatorship in the event of your incapacity
or the need for a probate on your passing.
Who needs an estate plan?
An estate plan is important for anyone who wants to protect their family
and their property. A proper estate plan allows you to plan for your disability
and direct the distribution of your property. It can save tax dollars,
professional fees and court costs. You should work with a trusted advisor
to avoid inadvertent issues and errors with do-it-yourself plans.
Why do I want to avoid probate?
Probate is the court supervised process of paying your debts and distributing
your property to the people who inherit it. It is expensive, time-consuming
and a matter of public record. A small investment of time now can save
heartache in the future.
How does a trust avoid probate?
Property you transfer into a living trust before your death doesn’t
go through probate. The person you appoint to handle your trust after
your death (the “Successor Trustee”) simply transfers ownership
to the beneficiaries you named in the trust.
Benefits of an estate plan
- Provide instructions for your care and that of your loved ones in the event
of your disability
- Avoid probate and its associated legal costs
- Keep your affairs private and confidential (probate is part of the public record)
- Control your property
- Create protective trusts for your disadvantaged children, adult children
- Reduce or eliminate estate taxes (if necessary)
- Avoid California’s default rules for the distribution of your assets
For additional financial health information, please attend Torrance Memorial's
Financial Health Seminars.
Stephanie Bezner is an attorney and partner with Doan-Bezner located in
Rancho Palos Verdes. She is a member of Torrance Memorial’s Professional
Advisory Council. www.doan-bezner.com. (310) 541-4076.