Estate Planning

Estate planning can be an uncomfortable topic, and yet it’s one every family needs to address. You may be wondering: How do I make sure my kids are taken care of the way I want? What will happen to my home when I am gone? How do I minimize the tax hit my family will endure? Expert advice is worth paying for. A good estate planner can customize an estate plan to the unique needs of your situation. Every family situation is different, and each family deserves personalized attention. Blended families, children with special needs, family-owned businesses, and unique assets all present their own estate planning challenges. Schofield Law Group provides estate plans that suit the needs of most families — living trusts, wills, powers of attorney, special needs trusts and more specialized planning tools.

Estate Planning Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What is a durable power of attorney?
A. A durable power of attorney gives someone else the power to make financial decisions for you when you are not able to make those decisions yourself. A well-written durable power of attorney provides detailed instructions for the “attorney in fact” to follow, and lets others know the limits of that person’s power. This situation usually arises when a person becomes mentally incapacitated from dementia, illness or an accident.

Q. What is an advance health care directive? 
A. An advance health care directive gives someone else the power to make decisions about your health care. A well-written advanced health care directive provides instruction for end of life decisions, but also a range of other decisions for the type of care you want to receive while you are alive but unable to communicate.

Q. What is a trust?
A. A trust partially substitutes for a will. Your assets are put into the trust, used for your benefit during your lifetime, and then transferred to your beneficiaries when you die.

Q. How can I tell if I should have a trust?
A. A trust has many benefits. When set up correctly, the person who establishes it can avoid probate upon his death. A trust can be a critical component for tax planning. It is useful for disbursing assets to heirs. Most Californians who own a house should consider getting a trust. If a person dies with over $150,000 in probate-able assets, in the long run, the cost of a probate is significantly more than what it costs to set up a trust.

Q. What is a special needs trust?
A. A special needs trust is used to plan for a person who receives public benefits, especially those with disabilities. Without one, a family’s best intentions can often go awry. For example, if a person on public benefits receives an unexpected inheritance, that inheritance can have the unintended consequence of disqualifying that person for the benefits on which they rely. A special needs trust can set aside assets and use them to enhance the beneficiary’s life without disqualifying him for his benefits.