Estate Planning – Wills, & Trusts

Create an estate plan that protects your assets
and your family exactly the way you want it to!

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Gain Peace of Mind

Did you know that the State of California already has an estate plan for anyone who fails to prepare or update one for themselves…and it doesn’t protect you or your loved ones in the way you would want?

It is essential that you feel confident and sure about the estate plan you have in place and we can help!

Imagine the peace of mind you will have when your estate plan (Will and Trust) is completed and your assets and family are protected and safe.

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  • Ensure your minor children will never be placed in the care of strangers during a sudden emergency or serious illness
  • Avoid a long and expensive court process (known as probate) that would cost your loved ones’ tens of thousands of dollars
  • Protect your family members’ inheritances from creditors, predators, future marriages, and lawsuits
  • Make your medical wishes known and ensure they are followed
  • Leave behind far more than just money

Orange County Trust Lawyer

Setting up a trust is an excellent way to protect your assets and ensure that you can pass them to your loved ones, according to your wishes, after your death. An Orange County trust lawyer can help explain your options, make sure that you have everything set up and in line with the legal requirements in California and your county, and support you as you make vital estate planning decisions.

What Is A Trust?

A trust helps set up legal protections for specific assets and ensure their distribution according to the wishes of the person who owns those assets. It can also aid in the distribution of assets after death, since a trust helps reduce paperwork and even helps reduce inheritance taxes. A trust sets up a third party, referred to as the trustee, to hold assets for specific beneficiaries according to the wishes and desires of the party that created the trust. The assets will be released according to the wishes of the person that creates the trust.

Common Types Of Trusts

There are several common types of trusts to take into consideration when creating your estate plan. An Orange County trust lawyer can help go over your options for creating a trust and which one will most likely work best for your needs, usually based on your specific plans for your estate.

  • A living trust, which is created while you are still alive, is designed to avoid the probate process after your death.
  • A testamentary trust is set up after your death based on the terms you aid out in your will.
  • A revocable trust, which is also a living trust, can have its terms altered until the guarantor’s death. It is primarily designed to help bypass probate.
  • An irrevocable trust cannot be changed once it has been created. Generally, assets are transferred into the estate to avoid taxation of that portion of the estate. The assets in an irrevocable trust are no longer available to the guarantor, during their lifetime. However, those assets are not taxed as part of the estate on the guarantor’s death.

The Benefits Of Trust-based Estate Planning

Trust-based estate planning can offer several key benefits as you manage your assets.

  • It helps protect your family’s privacy since, unlike other asset transfers, they will not typically become part of public record.
  • It can help transfer assets out of your estate, which may help reduce the taxes you have to pay (and the taxes that will have to be paid after your death).
  • You can have more control over your assets: not just who receives them, but when they will receive them and, in some cases, under what terms.
  • You can use a trust to help bypass probate, which can help get assets in the hands of your beneficiaries sooner after your death.
  • When you transfer assets out of the estate, it can help shelter them from creditors, which may protect them for your heirs.

How An Orange County Trust Lawyer Can Help You Set Up A Trust

An Orange County trust lawyer can help create the terms of your trust and ensure that you are able to effectively meet your needs. A trust attorney, or estate planning attorney, can:

  • Draw up the necessary paperwork
  • Ensure that the terms of your trust are in line with the law (for example, you cannot require two people to get divorced in order for one of them to receive a portion of the trust)
  • Help you avoid costly mistakes that could prevent your beneficiaries from receiving the assets you intend for them

A good estate planning lawyer is also essential to ensuring that your trust is in compliance with state and local laws.

Finding The Best Orange County Trust Lawyer For You

Do you need an Orange County Trust lawyer? Look for a lawyer who:

  • Has experience dealing with the type of assets you want to put into a trust
  • Has experience with Orange County estate planning laws
  • Will provide you with the advice and support you need to set up asset distribution according to your wishes.

Are you ready to start creating your estate plan in Orange County? Do you need help setting up a trust? We can help. Contact us today to schedule a planning session to discuss your estate plan.

Orange County Will Attorney

Estate planning is an essential part of life so that you can ensure your assets end up in the right hands when you are gone. A will is one powerful estate planning tool that people use to plan. An Orange County will lawyer has the knowledge and expertise to help you create a will that includes your needs and goals related to the distribution of your assets after you pass.

What Is a Will?

A will is a legal document that explicitly states who will inherit your personal property after your death. Those who you designate to inherit your property are called beneficiaries. A will includes the designation of one or more beneficiaries and often an executor, a person you designate to manage the distribution of your personal property to your beneficiaries. Creating a will provides those left behind with a clear view of your wishes and intent, making it less likely that your property will end up in the wrong hands and people you trust will care for your minor children.

A living will, legally referred to as a health care directive or advance directive, provides instructions to family members and physicians for your end-of-life medical care. An experienced estate planning attorney can also help you create a living will, but it is a different document than a last will and testament which deals with the distribution of your personal property.

What Can Be Included in a Will?

Your will can include property and assets that are part of your estate. Most wills include instructions about the distribution of one or more types of the following property:

  • Real property, including homes, land, and other buildings
  • Cash including money in checking, savings, and money market accounts
  • Intangible property including stocks, bonds, business ownership, patents, copyrights, and other intellectual property
  • Valuable property such as cars, artwork, family heirlooms, furniture, and jewelry

If you have children under age 18, you can also designate one or more guardians to take care of them until they are adults in the event of your death. You can also designate the guardian(s) to manage your minor children’s assets.

The Role Your Will Plays in Your Estate Plan

On a broad level, having a will allows for easier distribution of your assets and property to your beneficiaries and provides care for minor children. Specifically, creating a will as part of your estate plan:

  • Prevents your property from getting distributed in a way you do not want. This allows you to help those you want and avoid leaving valuable assets to those you believe do not need or deserve any of your property.
  • Prevents minor children from being forced to live with someone you would not have chosen as a guardian.
  • Ensures your assets do not get tied up in probate court. When your assets get tied up indefinitely after your death, you might be creating excessive financial and emotional stress for those you leave behind.
  • Prevents your estate and surviving family members from accumulating massive legal fees and court costs that could have been avoided with a will. Without a will, family members might need to go to court to determine their rights to inheritance. In some cases, court battles can drag on for months or years.

How an Orange County Will Attorney Can Help

Creating a will protects your property and assets and ensures they go the beneficiaries of your choice. Although an attorney is not necessary, it’s best to consult with a will lawyer. Orange County will lawyers have specialized knowledge about California law and how it applies to estate planning. They can reduce your stress, help you plan how to distribute your property best, and prevent your beneficiaries from having grounds to contest your will by creating a solid document without loopholes.

Finding the Best Orange County Will Attorney for You

As you search for an Orange County will lawyer to help you create your will, you want to find the best attorney possible. The best Orange County will attorney for you will understand your needs and guide you on the best path for distributing your assets. Additionally, they can let you know which property you should include in your will and which property you should leave in a trust or another estate planning vehicle.

Contact us today to schedule a planning session to discuss your will and what estate planning tools are best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are handwritten wills legal in California?

California permits handwritten wills, also called holographic wills. You do not even need a witness to sign your holographic will. However, it’s not the best idea to handwrite your will. It’s best to create a formal, printed will signed by two witnesses. It’s difficult to prove the validity of a handwritten will after someone has passed. Additionally, none of your potential heirs can claim you were not of sound mind or under the influence of someone else when you create a formal will.

What cannot be included in a will?

The most significant limitation for property included in a will is shared property or property that does not belong to you. You can only leave property that you fully own to your beneficiaries. Additionally, you cannot leave shared property to your heirs. For example, if you own a home or business with someone, your partner will typically receive the asset because of their right to survivorship. You cannot leave the property to someone else in your will.

Do I need an attorney to write my will?

You can write your will without an Orange County will attorney, but it’s not generally in your best interest. Lawyers have specialized knowledge that ensures they draft sound legal documents, including wills. If you choose to write your will without the help of an experienced attorney, you risk your heirs fighting over your assets and potentially finding a loophole in the document to contest your will.

Why would a person want to set up a trust?

People choose to set up a trust for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, they will set up a trust to help bypass probate, decrease estate taxes, and get assets in the hands of their beneficiaries sooner after their death. Setting up a trust can make life easier for your beneficiaries, especially if you have considerable assets that you have to take into consideration. You might also want to set up a trust to:

  • Help protect assets from creditors
  • Experience tax advantages, including decreased inheritance taxes or gift taxes
  • Increase privacy
  • Control your assets so that they go exactly where you intend after your death.

What are the disadvantages of a trust?

A trust does have some disadvantages, which you should carefully consider before creating a trust. An Orange County trust lawyer can help go over the potential disadvantages ahead of time, which may help you make a decision that better fits your needs.

  • An irrevocable trust can take away control of your assets from you, which could pose a problem if you need them later.
  • Trust-related costs may be higher in the initial planning stages. You may have to pay for legal services, manage property registration and title transfers, and take care of any filing fees. You may also have to pay a fee to the trustee, or the person that manages the trust.
  • You may need to keep more careful records of asset transfers in and out of a trust, which can prove very complicated, especially in cases that involve considerable property.

Do I need an attorney to set up a trust?

While you do not legally have to have an attorney to set up a trust, most people find that hiring a lawyer is very advantageous. A lawyer can help ensure that your trust is set up properly and in accordance with your wishes, avoiding potentially high costs and unintended consequences later.

“I first heard about Meier Law Firm through an event at work, Laura Meier spoke about the importance of setting up a trust and its legal implications. My husband and I were dreading setting up our family trust but we still decided to make an appointment because Laura’s presentation was so compelling. We met with Jonathan Johnson, the company’s COO & Intake Paralegal. He explained the importance of the document, laid out the process in clear and simple terms, and pointed out the different details on how to make it as solid as a document as possible. Added bonus, he’s very funny!

Bonnie Johnson- yes, they’re married- is the firm’s Client Services Director and she helped us throughout the whole process. She was very patient in answering all of our questions and reminding us of each next step we needed to take. She is very thorough, exactly what you need when you are essentially laying out the future of your family in the unfortunate event you cannot be there to witness it.

High expertise combined with excellent customer service!”

— Mona M., Los Angeles, CA

Our Trust and Probate Administration Process

1 Book a Planning Session
First, you’ll attend a planning session with us to discuss your child’s needs and your options.
2 Create a Customized Plan
We’ll identify what legal strategies will work best for your family to create a customized plan.
3 Gain Peace of Mind
You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your family and assests are protected from unforeseeable circumstances.
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Call Us Today!

“Some things are not easy or fun to talk about. Like wills and family trusts and what will happen when you’re gone. This law firm was absolutely FANTASTIC. It was like working with a family. You are always with the right person at the right time. Laura Meier was our counsel on our will and family trust. She is incredible. Josh Meier is our counsel for addressing tax issues. You are introduced to the process, their model of pulling things together by their team… primarily Bonnie and Jonathan Johnson. We immediately felt comfortable with everyone on the team. In less than 6 weeks, we have a perfect binder with our completed family trust. We will continue to work with Laura and Josh for all our legal needs. If you want personal AND professional services, this is a great law firm. They are conveniently located in the Fashion Island complex. Please feel free to send me any questions!!”

— Rob L., Orange, CA.


Workshops & Events

Estate Planning Musts
During the Pandemic—Wills,
Trusts, & Peace of Mind!

Overview:

No one wants to think about getting seriously ill or dying, but these are scenarios we must prepare for to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our money, especially during the pandemic. With courts closed and hospitals prohibiting loved ones from sitting by your bedside, we will show you step by step how to legally formalize your wishes and ensure they will be followed, bringing you total protection and peace of mind!

Workshops & Events
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Resources for Estate Planning

“I’m a business litigation attorney, and my husband and I used Laura for our estate and family planning. Laura is knowledgable, experienced, and thorough. I was so impressed with how efficiently her office handled everything. Her office goes the extra mile to ensure your family is protected. I would absolutely recommend Laura!!”

— Natalie T., Corona Del Mar, Newport Beach, CA

Feel confident and safe knowing that your family is taken care of – no matter what.

Create an estate plan with the Meier Law Firm today.

Book A Planning Session
Call Us Today!