Estate Planning

Peoples Estates are like flowing bodies of water. Serene and peaceful one moment and a tempest the next. If the water is flowing freely without anything to inhibit its flow, everything is fine. However, when something gets in the way of the flow of the water, this can cause major damage to anything in its path. Stop the latter from happening and create your Estate Plan NOW!

California Estate Planning

An experienced California estate planning attorney is essential in helping to secure a families assets for orderly and efficient distribution when the time comes. The Law Office of Jeffrey A. Mentzos has been in the business for over 20 years in educating Californians to make sure all necessary steps are taken to insure all assets end up in the proper places when the time comes to pass assets to beneficiaries.

The Law Office of Jeffrey A. Mentzos regularly advises Californians regarding the estate planning needs for all families, including helping parents who may be on their second marriage or more. Problems can arise when there are step children involved and so these and other potential problems need to be addressed. Taxes are also an issue, whether it be capital gains tax, estate tax, potential real property tax reassessment and transfer tax, to name a few potential problems. Finally, the amount an estate will save in avoiding probate will serve only to benefit the family.

Common Tools for Your Estate Plan

Your estate plan is not completed when either the Trust or Will is drafted, signed and notarized. Depending on your personal needs which are incorporated into your estate plan will determine what supporting documents are needed for your plan. The documents needed for a complete and effective estate plan include but are not limited to the following:

  • Wills and Trusts
  • Powers of attorney
  • Advance Directives
  • Living Wills
  • Health Care Proxies
  • Funeral Arrangements
The documentation above is essential in the creation of an effective estate plan. Each document or tool is drafted specifically to fit your needs and goals now, while at the same time, safeguarding your families future against unnecessary costs of probate, attorneys’ fees and costs.
Why Have an Estate Plan?
I cannot stress enough the importance of the benefits of having an estate plan in place, especially when you have a family that needs to be taken care of, in the event of a catastrophic event to a mother, father or both!. Estate Planning is essential for making sure the families minor children are placed where they are supposed to be placed, in accordance with the mother and fathers wishes, making sure that the personal and real property is used for the benefit of these children and to make sure that the assets are properly distributed to children at the appropriate time, in accordance with the wished of the parents. In addition, an estate plan may have tax benefits now and down the road.

Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney can be expensive but this really depends upon what a person defines as expensive. Normally, in my experience, I have seen attorneys charge anywhere from $250. Per hour up to $400.00 per hour on average.

In addition with regards to probate, the attorneys’ fees are statutory and will depend on the gross value of the estate that is to be probated.

My costs for setting up an estate plan is a fixed cost. I can make a determination, in most cases, after a free consultation over Zoom with the client. As I have stated before, your estate plan should not, in most cases, cost more than a monthly mortgage payment.

The role of an Estate Planning Attorney is to advise the client/family on the possible pitfalls that exist if they do not have a plan in place. An Estate Planning Attorney has to deal with possibilities and advise the client accordingly. What will happen to minor children if something happens to mom and dad, what happens if mom or dad become medically incompetent, who takes care of who, what are the estate and other tax implications to the estate. These and other questions need addressing and it’s the Estate Planning Attorneys’ duty to address these questions with their clients.
The answer to this question is every attorneys’ best friend, “It depends” I always tell clients that it really depends on the value of your estate and other factors. If there are minor children involved and if you own a home, a Trust is a great idea. Remember, a will is your ticket to probate!

I’m going to be straight up with you all on this one. I am bias. Of course I would like you to hire me to draft your estate plan. With that being said, yes, it is possible for you to draft your own plan. There is a lot of information out there these days in libraries and book stores, HaHa, who am I kidding! Most if not all of you will go to the internet to get information. There is a lot of great information as well as some not so great information, especially in the area of trusts coupled with taxation and tax avoidance.

I am a firm believer in hiring professionals. If I want to build a house, I hire a contractor, if I want to restore my 1969 Chevelle, I will hire a professional. I think you get the idea.

In addition, how much time will it cost you to complete your estate plan?

Finally, there could be severe tax ramifications depending on the estate.