San Jose Estate Planning Attorney
Create a Will or Trust to Plan for the Future of Your Estate and Your Family
Establishing an estate plan is an important step toward protecting yourself and your loved ones. With an estate plan in place, you can shield your assets from unnecessary tax obligations, allowing your beneficiaries to receive more of your property. Without an estate plan, your heirs can not only lose large amounts of your assets through estate taxes, they can have other difficulties such as a long probate in which the courts make the decisions about the distribution of your estate.
I am Marilla J. Ronald, and I have extensive experience as a San Jose estate planning lawyer. I help people in Sunnyvale and Palo Alto and throughout Silicon Valley create comprehensive plans to distribute their assets as they see fit. Whether you have a small amount of property or a complex asset portfolio, you and your family can benefit from the well-written wills, trusts and other documents that I can create for you.
Comprehensive Solutions for Clients in Silicon Valley
A comprehensive estate plan can accomplish more than simply the distribution of your assets. Your plan can address your health care wishes or determine who should handle your personal or financial affairs should you become incapacitated. Protecting your future should health issues arise helps your children or other heirs to avoid the stress and concerns of trying to guess what you would have wanted.
At my San Jose office, I offer custom-tailored solutions that meet the unique needs of each individual client. I am ready to sit down with you and discuss all the available tools, including:
- Simple or complex wills
- Trusts, including special-needs trusts
- Durable powers of attorney
- Advance health care directives
- Asset protection and tax planning
Planning for Incapacity
Advanced planning protects you if you become incapacitated and are not able to manage your own financial affairs. Often people have the mistaken belief that their spouse or adult children can automatically take over for them if they become incapacitated; however, that is not the case in California. If you have not designated someone to manage your finances prior to you becoming incapacitated, a family member will need to petition a court to declare you legally incompetent. This process can be lengthy and costly. If you want your family to be able to immediately take over for you, you must designate a person or persons that you trust in appropriate legal documents so that they will have the authority to take actions on your behalf.
It is also important for you to establish a plan for your medical care and treatment if you are not able to make those decisions on your own. With advance planning, you have the right to appoint someone you trust (for example, a family member or close friend) to make decisions on your behalf about medical treatment options if you lose the ability to decide for yourself. You can do this by using a durable power of attorney for health care where you designate the person to make such decisions.
Avoiding California Probate
If you leave your estate to your loved ones using a will or if you have not prepared an estate plan, your estate will have to go through probate. Probate is expensive and time-consuming. The probate court is in control of the process until the estate has been settled and distributed. If you are married and have children, you want to make certain that your surviving family has immediate access to cash to pay for living expenses while your estate is being settled. With proper planning, your assets can pass on to your loved ones without undergoing probate, in a manner that is quick, inexpensive and private.
I often recommend that my San Jose area clients create a living trust to avoid probate. With a living trust, your assets are held in the name of the trust for your benefit during your life and then after your death, the assets are transferred to your beneficiaries. Having a living trust allows for the smooth transfer of assets after you die with little or no probate court involvement.
Contact a Sunnyvale Will and Trust Lawyer Today
If you live in San Jose, Sunnyvale or Palo Alto or elsewhere in Silicon Valley and you are ready to create an estate plan, the Law Office of Marilla J. Ronald can help. For a consultation, call 408-243-4100 or send me an email.