Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Examines Estate Planning Essentials

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California elder law Client Services Director Stephanie McNaughton, of Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning, lists the top three tips on why estate planning is imperative for Baby Boomers.

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You most likely have an idea of where you want your assets to go, but if you don’t properly plan for your estate’s distribution, your intended beneficiaries may not get what you wanted them to receive.

No one likes to think about their death. “However, leaving your estate unattended can be disastrous regardless of its size,” said Stephanie McNaughton, Client Services Director of Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning. “You most likely have an idea of where you want your assets to go, but if you don’t properly plan for your estate’s distribution, your intended beneficiaries may not get what you wanted them to receive, and may even be subject to unnecessary taxes, extra administration costs, and contests from squabbling siblings.”

To further educate Baby Boomers, and others, on the benefits of estate planning, McNaughton lists the following three tips:

No. 1: Ensure property goes to the intended heir(s) with the least amount of tax liability possible and probate avoidance. “Each state has their own laws on probate. If you live in California, if you own any real estate or have assets totalling over $150,000, attorneys recommend a trust to avoid probate. Probate can be costly, stressful and time consuming, not to mention helping attorneys get rich. You should also name whom you wish to be the guardian of any minor children you may have, which can be accomplished through a Nomination of Guardianship,” noted McNaughton.

No. 2: Set up a durable power of attorney and health care directive. Without a proper durable power of attorney, if one suffers a tragic event as a result of illness or injury, leaving them unable to manage their finances, their family will be forced to establish a conservatorship of the estate through the court in order to assist them with finances. An Advance Health Care Directive allows the individual to select whom they want to sign medical waivers, make medical decisions should he/she be incapacitated. Without this document a conservatorship of the person through the court may be necessary. Conservatorships are difficult in they must report all steps to the court and more often than not, treated by the courts as if the conservator does not have the best motives. “We recommend people of all ages have these documents,” added McNaughton.

No. 3: Estate plans should be done with care to prevent the possibility of one’s wishes not being followed. Wills that are not complete can be contested by other heirs in a court of law, which could result in one’s wishes not being followed. “While you can set up your own estate plan, it can be a risky proposition,” concluded McNaughton. “It is best to seek the advice of an experienced estate planning and/or elder law attorney to ensure your wishes are followed. Your attorney can advise you as to whether a will alone is enough to secure your property or whether it would be best to set up further protection of your assets.”

About Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning
Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning offers quality estate planning for singles and couples and serves the senior population by providing assistance with governmental entities such as VA and Medi-Cal and long-term care planning. The firm also offers services in probate, guardianship and conservatorship administration in Alameda County, Contra Costa County and throughout the state of California. For more information, please call (925) 244-1185, or visit http://www.horizonlawca.com. The law office is located at 2333 San Ramon Valley Blvd., Suite 145, San Ramon, CA 94583.

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