Contact Us Today (925) 459-1777


Is Your Estate Planning Up To Date?

Posted by Jessica Ward | Jan 11, 2024 | 0 Comments

Estate planning is essential for families of all sizes, wealth and accumulated assets. Estate planning also encompasses essential documents, such as financial powers of attorney and health care directives that often save your loved ones from having to guess your medical wishes, or going to court to get power to manage your finances when you are unable. Take this short quiz to determine if you need a plan, or if your current plan needs revising. 

  1. Have you prepared a will or a trust? Without proactive planning, you are relying on the state legislature to determine how your assets pass, to whom they pass, and when they pass.  In addition to having potentially undesired results, this is perhaps the most costly and time consuming means of passing your assets to your loved ones. If no, contact Jessica at (925) 459-1777 to discuss your options.
  2. If you have done a will or trust, has it been reviewed in the last two years? Even assuming that there has not been family or financial changes since your plan was last reviewed, it is wise to review your plan every couple of years with an attorney to ensure your current planning still can accomplish your goals.  An out-of-date estate plan is perhaps worse than no estate plan at all.  Our experience is that people view estate planning as an event rather than a process. If no, contact Jessica at (925) 459-1777 to discuss your current plan.
  3. Are all of your heirs over the age of 21 and financially responsible, or do they have special needs?  Under state law, children inherit property no later than age 21 without restrictions.  Proper planning is crucial to prevent an heir from squandering his or her inheritance, or worse, from causing harm to himself or herself. Additionally, your children may not have special needs at the time of your planning, however, language can be added to protect your children if they later have special needs and are receiving public benefits. If no, contact Jessica at (925) 459-1777 to discuss your options.
  4. Are you absolutely certain that your assets will not be subject to probate? We encourage you to make a list of each asset you own and identify how each asset will avoid probate.  Assets owned as “joint tenants with rights of survivorship,” or "community property with right of survivorship", assets owned in the name of a trust, and assets that pass by beneficiary designation (such as IRAs, life insurance, etc.) will avoid probate.  Everything else is subject to probate.  (Also, note that assets owned jointly are typically subject to probate upon the death of the last joint tenant or spouse.)  Probates can be costly and typically require twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months from the date of death to conclude. If no, contact Jessica at (925) 459-1777 to discuss your options.
  5. Do you have assets titled jointly with a child or children, or someone else? Holding assets jointly with someone other than a spouse is quite common, but has some potentially devastating consequences of which most people are unaware.  A creditor of a joint tenant can take the entire asset to satisfy the creditor's claim.  A creditor would include a divorcing spouse, judgment creditor, or business creditor.  Additionally, problems can be created if joint tenants die in the wrong order. If yes, contact Jessica at (925) 459-1777 to discuss your options.
  6. Does your current plan provide your heirs with asset protection, divorce protection, and lawsuit protection? The most common means of providing for heirs is with outright distributions.  By doing so, however, the inheritance becomes subject to the creditors of your heirs. If no, contact Jessica at (925) 459-1777 to discuss your options.
  7. Is this your first marriage? Second or subsequent marriages present unique planning issues, particularly if both spouses have children from a prior marriage.  Proper planning is critical to prevent undesired results. If no, contact Jessica at (925) 459-1777 to discuss your options.

*If you answer "No" to the below questions, or "Yes" to question #5, you should contact Attorney Jessica Ward at (925) 459-1777 to set up a free discovery call or free 30 minute consultation. We look forward to speaking with you!

About the Author


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today

Law Office of Jessica R. Ward is committed to answering your questions about law issues in California. We offer a complimentary consultation and will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.