Estate Planning Attorneys Serving Vallejo and Fairfield, CA
Highly professional asset protection and legacy planning services in Solano County
Estate planning involves taking inventory of your assets, setting up legal protections for them, and arranging for their distribution to your family and loved ones. A lawyer can help you develop a strategy that maximizes inheritance for your beneficiaries, minimizes their taxes and eliminates unnecessary expenses. You should periodically update your estate plan to reflect changes to your relationships and financial status. At Favaro, Lavezzo, Gill, Caretti & Heppell, PC in Vallejo and Fairfield, our knowledgeable attorneys can help you prepare for the future.
What is the purpose of an estate plan?
Completing a comprehensive estate plan benefits your loved ones and provides you with security. It allows you to make end-of-life choices for yourself instead of forcing others to make difficult decisions without knowing your wishes. Documents such as wills and trusts help you:
- Provide for your immediate family — You can set forth clear instructions regarding how your assets should be dispersed upon your death. Additionally, you can make your wishes clear regarding the guardianship, education and religious upbringing of your surviving children under age 18.
- Provide for non-immediate relatives — You can provide for extended family members such as grandchildren by setting up trusts or naming them in specific will bequests.
- Control your funeral arrangements — You can plan and pay for funeral expenses, and state whether your body should be cremated, buried or donated to medical science.
- Minimize taxes and other expenses to survivors and beneficiaries — With the help of your estate planning attorney, you can organize property transfer and inheritance distribution in order to avoid unnecessary costs and taxes, and even learn how to avoid probate.
- Prepare for retirement — When you work with an estate planning law firm early enough, you can plan ways to manage your assets in order to finance retirement needs and maintain the ability to receive long-term care should you need it.
- Plan for incapacity — By executing legally enforceable documents, you can make advance decisions regarding life support and resuscitation, and designate a trusted family member or other individual to make decisions about medical care if you are incapacitated.
A comprehensive estate plan uses various tools to safeguard your assets and establish an efficient framework to disperse what you own at the proper time.
Understanding the importance of professional estate planning
Attempting to formulate an estate plan on your own can easily backfire, because simple mistakes can have costly consequences. Here are just a few of the problems frequently associated with DIY wills and other instruments prepared without professional assistance:
- Vagueness — If you don’t use precise language, a court might not be able to interpret your will and could declare it null and void. Your wishes won’t be honored, and your property will be distributed according to the state’s law of inheritance.
- Partial intestacy — You might leave out certain properties. These assets will be treated as though you died without a will. State law will dictate who gets what.
- Defective execution — Wills must be completed according to legal formalities: written, signed and witnessed. If you make a mistake, a court might invalidate the will. State law will take over.
- Will contests — If your will is open to conflicting interpretations, you might inadvertently pit your heirs against each other. Imprecise language can touch off family legal battles.
To maximize the effectiveness of an estate plan, it’s best to consult an experienced attorney who can help ensure you get every benefit of state and federal law.
Three frequently asked questions about estate planning
- What documents are included in an estate plan? Estate plans may consist of documents such as a last will and testament, revocable living trust, durable power of attorney, advanced health care directive, community property agreement, generation-skipping trust, irrevocable life insurance trust, qualified personal residence trust, special needs trust and charitable trust(s).
- Can I write my own will? While you may draft your own will, it is only valid if it has been properly executed.
- Can I challenge a will I believe to be fraudulent? If you believe that a will was the result of undue influence, coercion or fraud, or you think the testator was mentally incapacitated when the will was created, our lawyers can help you contest the document. We can also represent you in all types of trust litigation.
Make a smart estate plan for the ones you love
Favaro, Lavezzo, Gill, Caretti & Heppell, PC helps clients in Solano, Contra Costa and Napa counties establish reliable and effective estate plans. To learn more, call us today at 707-674-6057 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.