Estate Planning & Asset Protection Attorney in Orange County
James G. Burns Esq. – Author, Living Trust & Asset Protection Specialist
Biggest Question asked by Americans – Do I need a Will or a Living Trust?
Not answering this question lead to $2.8 Billion being lost in Probate Courts nationwide in 2014 and the families stuck in a complex and costly court system were not the wealthiest Americans. That was a lot of money lost by average families whose lives could have changed by the transfer of wealth but instead lost it in an avoidable consequence. Without the right tools in place we are all on the road to one of the Two Probates – The Living Probate and the Departure Probate.
Whether you have a Will or don’t, it must be validated in the Probate Court so that means just having a Will is a certain and direct path to Probate Court. Probate comes from the Latin word “probare” to try, test or to prove something and in this instance someone is trying to prove the validity of your Will or get appointed as the administrator of your estate so they can distribute your property. If your gross estate (before deductions) is more than $150,000 of assets or you own more than $50,000 in real estate and pass away without the 4 Core© protection documents, the estate must go through Probate. The average cost on a small gross estate of $500,000 is $26,000 and if you own more by virtue of your home’s value the cost can easily swell over $50,0000.
Many of our clients were in your shoes looking for answers and not wanting to overspend and make the process a full time job getting a plan in place. Statistics shows the two main reasons people fail to plan to their estates is due to cost and the time they perceive it will take to get it done. Our system and our value based pricing eliminates these concerns so you quickly get the benefit that protects loved ones.
Learning how to plan your estate and avoid the government’s plan (Probate) does not have to be complicated or time consuming. You must take action and get it done because not doing anything just leads to terrible trouble for your family who will be caught in a complex and expensive court system. Many Americans think this is all about dying but it is also about poor health that attacks your mental competence so that loved ones cannot transact on your behalf. Remember only a “sound mind” can sign on the dotted line and millions of Americans are caught off guard every year by one illness or another that affects their reasoning ability. Waiting for this to happen and not protecting family from having to be in court is not a great way to be remembered.
We are happy to let you know that after numerous clients we’ve developed a system to reduce the impact in your lifestyle as well as not put a dent in your pocket book. Many people try and shop for something so important like the planning tools we are discussing based on price alone and it is never a good idea to exchange the safety of family for price. There are countless stories of legal doom out there where good people with poor judgment practice law on themselves; or worst yet practice on their family and buy on estate plans through websites or use junky software packages because financial gurus with books tell them to buy their stuff. When you go cheap you always have a little doubt if things are done right. When you feel sick do you get cheap? Probably not as most rational people go to the doctor so it amazes us that for legal documents people avoid seeing a lawyer to ensure things are correct and will accomplish their goals.
You may be here because you seek answers on how to protect your family and help them avoid expensive court fees. The alternative is clear, without planning they will be caught in a government system that dictates who your property is distributed to and when. In addition, the estate remains open and vulnerable to creditors who could make claims against your estate. In 2015 we went over participating in 4,000 estate plans that use the right tools (4 Core) with the living trust being the main means of accomplishing the goal of staying out of court and keeping things at home with family.
Who is estate planning for?
If you don’t find out more you could be mistaken that you have to be really wealthy to need estate planning documents. In California just having over $150,000 in assets or owning more than $50,000 in real estate can create a potential Probate situation.
This is definitely for business owners who know they need a plan to keep the business going if something happens to them so their family is not drawn in to court battles or blindsided on how things were to transfer. There are very specific techniques in developing a continuation plan so that business remains uninterrupted provide that much needed income and security for the family.
Planning is for folks who are getting into their fifties and know time has changed and you are now over the midway point. So many things start to happen to folks in this age bracket and living without a solution for the unpredictable is exposing your family or your business to unnecessary risk that you alone can solve by using planning documents.
All parents with minor children need to play at a higher level. This means calculate risk and avoid it by naming guardians for your minor children so they have a legal document to present and establish they were the reliable people you want to raise your child in your absence. When we leave this and ignore the “what if” we are jeopardizing our children and their future.
If you have children receiving government benefits because they were born with an intellectual challenge (e.g., autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy etc.) you MUST protect them and get a Special Needs Trust or provision in your Living Trust so that your child is not disqualified from their government benefits destroying the life they grown accustom to is not. This is something you definitely can’t go on line to buy at a website and you need guidance.
Let me ask you a question: when you learn there is danger ahead unless you take action, how long do you wait to take care of it?
Most of us when we learn there is danger ahead take urgent action to overcome it; this is also known as the “No Brainer”. You see right now without the 4 core legal documents in place you have two major obstacles ahead that guarantees family members will be trapped in a complex and costly court system dealing with your affairs. After you accept there is a 100% chance of departing and that mental problems (e.g., stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s) provides no warning you know that only planning in advance protects your family. We advocate to clients that the best we can do with uncertainty about our future is use the very best judgment available to us. You can only have results as quickly as your decide to take action that moves things forward. Are you an action taker or explanation maker?
I’ve Heard Estate Planning is Expensive?
Imagine how expensive it is to not plan. The average small case being around $26,000 with other associate costs and then being trapped in an impersonal court system. Remember the court was designed as a last resort so why would you make it your first choice?
When we really want something expense is of little consequence and value is what we’re really seeking. What price to you put on your family and keeping their lives simpler as they morn and grieve over the loss.
Lastly, we still believe we have the best transfer for value on pricing anywhere in the marketplace. When you consider buying legal documents on line at a website with no guidance and that you need to know you need at least 4 documents and how to properly get them executed it really does not pay to get too cheap. On the other hand there are some firms that charge really high fees and perhaps it is warranted. We took a hard look at the market and calculated all our costs associated with a plan and found that sweet spot where we could remain fair with a small profit (the purpose of being in business) and yet pass on great value to those committed to protecting their family.
We often have specials monthly and have one of the best referral programs with our current clients where they can bestow a discount to family and friends. You want to plan now and if money is stopping you please call and find out instead if delaying and doing nothing.
- California’s best value to price for the Living Trust and the 4 core documents that immediately keeps out of the court system (Probate). You see, if you have a stroke, heart attack, dementia or Alzheimer’s your family members have to wheel you out to court to get appointed over your affairs as the Conservator. This is a lengthy and costly process that you can avoid but right now you’re on a one-way path to court unless you put the 4 core estate planning documents in place. When you go out to court for a mental incapacity we call this the Living Probate or Probate #1.
- Passing away is inevitable; you just don’t know when. If you even own a home and don’t have the Living Trust and other documents in place your family members will be in the Departure Probate or Probate #2. The average delay just to get a hearing being six months and court proceedings averaging 18 months and longer. Why would you stay on this path when we make it so easy and affordable to invest in your future and your family? Sometimes people get a double whammy which means they end up out in court for the Living Probate and Death Probate because once you’re declared incompetent you can’t create a legal document and sign it to avoid the Death Probate. As a result, your family loses $50,000 or more depending on the size of the estate.
If your like other people before they became a client you still have questions and we invite you to download one of the free reports available above. You can also seek a 15 minute phone consultation to see if planning is right for you and you are a fit for our firm. Don’t just let things “be” as that only leads to difficulties for others.
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