Wills And Trusts

Los Angeles County and the Rest of Southern California turn to MNB for their Will and Trust Needs

WILLS

In California, if you die without a Will (called, dying "intestate") your estate is divided according to California's probate laws, regardless of what you may have wanted when you were alive.  Wills give directions as to how your property is to be divided in the event of your death.  Your will can also name who you would like to have care for your minor children (and even your pets) upon your death.

At MNB, it always surprises us that many people take to the internet to draft their will, not knowing the source of the template, unable to ask questions when they arise (because they always do), and believing that simply filling in the template and signing it will ensure their wishes are carried out and has created a will.  This, of course, is not always the case.  California's probate laws provide several ways to create a valid will, but simply printing a template and signing it is not one of those ways.  Also, if your will is not valid and clear, the persons whom would inherit in an intestate situation (called, "heirs") may resort to a Will contest in the Probate courts.

A Will puts you in control of your property and financial affairs upon your death.  It directs which property items go to which people, entities, or charities.  You choose the person who handles distribution of your assets and you can make sure that any former spouse, stepchild, or not-in-good standing family member cannot obtain your assets that you do not want them to have.  A Will also helps reduce the probate process and can be used to reduce taxation, in addition to providing for the care of your pets and guardianship of your children.

A Will can also contain provisions for burial services, burial place, whether you are to be cremated or buried, what to do with your ashes, and other specific wishes or directions that you desire to occur in the event of your death.

Direct the Distribution of Your Assets and Protect Your Intended Beneficiaries -
Call MNB at (818) 344-9200 or schedule a free initial consultation online.

 

In California, the original executed Will is the only document accepted by the court as valid.  A Will must be properly executed and witnessed to be valid.  Once a will is created, it can be changed or cancelled throughout the maker's lifetime as long as the he or she has the mental capacity.

Unfortunately, a Will does not avoid probate proceedings.  Additionally, while a properly drafted and executed Will suffices to transfer assets to your intended beneficiaries, it does avoid or solve the issues of estate taxes, your preferences for a financial representative in the event of incapacity, your preferences for a financial representative in the event of incapacity.  Wills also do not cover all types of assets, as they do not apply to retirement plans, life insurance policies, or other assets with named beneficiaries.

A Will may be sufficient for your needs and estate, but consultation with legal counsel to find out is recommended. MNB's attorneys have the knowledge and experience to advise you if a Will alone is sufficient to secure your property and final wishes, or if your estate and your intended beneficiaries would be better protected using a Trust.

 

TRUSTS

Trusts are private documents and the person or persons creating them is referred to as a "settlor."  A Trust avoids the probate process and is intended to successfully keep the settlor in control of his or her assets and the distribution of the same upon death.  Trusts can be used to help qualify for Medi-CAL, protect property from creditors, or to protect and assure the care and well-being of non-human family loved ones using a Pet Trust.

After your death, only those beneficiaries named in the Trust are told about the assets and distribution.  A trust is a separate legal entity from the settlor.  Once established and had property transferred or sold to it, the trust states who controls the assets in the Trust and whom is the beneficiary of the Trust's assets during the settlor's lifetime and thereafter.

Revocable Living Trusts are most common in California.  Upon the settlor's death, a revocable living trust avoids the need for probate proceedings in court, saving the estate the fees, costs, and time delays typically occurring with intestate succession (and sometimes even when one has a Will, but no Trust).  The revocable living trust provides an economical way of distributing assets upon death, can reduce estate taxes (which can be especially beneficial for a surviving spouse of a married couple), and provides a means for appreciable assets to be transferred with a "stepped-up" valuation to avoid possible capital gains taxes.  The Trust sets forth who will act as Trustee and the successor Trustees and can be revoked (cancelled) or changed at any time while the settlor has sufficient mental capacity.

There are other asset protection options such as Irrevocable Trusts, Credit Shelter Trusts, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, and Qualified Personal Residence Trusts, which can also have tax advantages for both the beneficiaries and the donor.  The use of these asset protection options in your Estate Plan is dependent on the size of your estate and the types of property it holds.

MNB has relationships with some of the top asset protection companies and plan creators and works closely with them to ensure your asset protection plan and Estate Plan complement each other and work together to protect as much of your accumulated wealth as possible, protection your interests and those of your family and intended beneficiaries for years to come.

Call MNB at (818) 344-9200 or schedule a consultation online
to discuss how a Trust can protect You and Your Intended Beneficiaries.

 

LOW-COST OR DO-IT-YOURSELF (DIY) ESTATE PLANNING CAN PREVENT YOUR WISHES FROM BEING CARRIED OUT

If you are going to take the time to set out your wishes and desires and try to plan for the future of you, your family, and your intended beneficiaries, do not settle for "form" Trust and Estate mills or online internet DIY trusts.  Time and again, MNB's attorneys have seen that when a loved one passes or becomes incapacitated the trust mill's "cookie-cutter" trusts and free internet-template trusts lack many of the needed strategies for asset protection, smooth distribution of assets, and the transition to successor trustees.  This leaves family members to live with major problems and typically they spend more in court and trying to fix the problems than the settlor would have spent to go to a competent, experienced Estate Planning attorney, like the ones at MNB, to have the Trust drafted when established.

Unless you use a competent Estate Planning attorney that understands your assets and family situation, you will likely have a problem with your estate plan, and you will not know until it is too late.  It is imperative to seek out a trusted Estate Planning attorney, and MNB has those attorneys for you.  MNB's attorneys have the experience and knowledge necessary to protect you and your family with an appropriate Estate Plan.  At MNB, our attorneys are detail-oriented and client-focused and treat your assets and family as we treat our own giving the necessary time and attention to ensure they are appropriately protected during your lifetime and after your death.

With their experience in the family law, business law, and estate planning arenas, the attorneys at MNB understand the importance of providing, and have the knowledge and experience to provide, the careful and proper planning you need to ensure your safety, comfort, and stability, and to alleviate your family of the the pressures and uncertainty of what to do in the event of your death or incapacity.

Call (818) 344-9200 or schedule a consultation online
to take the first steps to establishing your Custom-Tailored Estate Plan.

 

If you are over the age of 18, have any assets that do not have named beneficiaries already, and do not have legal documents regarding your desires and directions upon your incapacity or death, it is advised you seek experienced legal counsel to have an Estate Plan created.  MNB's Estate Planning attorneys have the requisite knowledge and skill to make this as easy as possible.  Our attorneys are ready to help you understand your options and take the steps needed to ensure the successful implementation of your wishes.

Contact Us

Contact MNB Law Group today to discuss your Will and Trust needs and their solutions.  We are available online or by calling 818-344-9200.  We represent clients throughout Los Angeles County, including the areas of Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Los Angeles, Tarzana, Studio City, Calabasas, Canoga Park, Northridge, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Winnetka, Ventura County, Granada Hills, Lake Balboa, Burbank, Valley Village, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Universal City, Toluca Lake, and Chatsworth and in Ventura, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and throughout California.