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Estate Planning Attorneys in Bakersfield, California

While it may not be possible to predict the future, there are ways to prepare for it. No one wants to think about death, which is why many Californians delay setting up an estate plan. However, with a well-drafted estate plan, you can protect your legacy, yourself, and your loved ones from unexpected events.

At Underwood Law Firm, our knowledgeable attorneys offer estate planning services for individuals and families in Bakersfield, California. We also represent clients in Lamont and throughout Kern County regardless of their age, health, or level of wealth.

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The Importance of Estate Planning

Having an estate plan can provide increased peace of mind, but that is not the only advantage of estate planning. The following are common benefits of setting up an estate plan in California:

  • Preserve your legacy & provide for your family. A common misconception is that only old, terminally ill, or wealthy individuals can benefit from estate planning. In reality, having an estate is important to save your legacy and provide for your loved ones even if you are young, healthy, and do not have significant assets.

  • Avoid the cost and time of probate. With a well-drafted estate plan, you can streamline the probate process and minimize the cost and time of probate.

  • Minimize taxes and costs. Making arrangements to have your property transferred to the intended beneficiaries allows you to minimize taxes and reduce costs associated with estate administration.

  • Make sure that the assets go to the right beneficiaries. Dying without a will, also referred to as “dying intestate,” means that your property and money will be distributed according to California’s intestate succession laws. Having an estate plan allows you to make sure that your assets go exactly where you want them to go in the event of your passing.

  • Prevent family feuds. When family members know who gets what after a loved one’s death, they are less likely to engage in conflicts. This can prevent family feuds in the long run.

Estate Planning Documents

While most people know that they can benefit from having an estate plan, many do not understand what types of documents should be included in the plan. The most common types of estate planning documents in California include:

  1. Will. A will, or the last will and testament, is a legal document that describes how the testator (the person who writes the will) wants their assets to be distributed after their death. A will also names the executor of the estate who will handle the distribution of assets after the testator’s passing.

  2. Trust. With this legal document, the trustor (the person who establishes the trust) can appoint trustees and address how they want their assets to be handled. The trust also has beneficiaries, the persons for whom the document is created.

  3. Financial power of attorney. This legal document allows a person to give another person the power to handle their financial and business matters in the event of their incapacity. With a financial power of attorney, you can appoint your “agent” who will take care of your financial affairs when you are no longer capable of doing so yourself.

  4. Advanced healthcare directive. This document is used to inform a patient’s family members and healthcare providers about their preferences for medical treatment. The advanced healthcare directive outlines how an individual wants healthcare decisions to be handled on their behalf should they become incapacitated.

Having an experienced estate planning attorney allows you to make sure that these documents are drafted properly. Speak with an estate planning attorney in Bakersfield, California, to get assistance with drafting a plan tailored to your needs and goals.

How Your Attorney Can Help

Consulting with a skilled estate planning attorney is helpful because an attorney will seek to:

  • Find the right solutions for your specific needs and goals. Everyone’s situation is different, which is why there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to creating an estate plan.

  • Draft enforceable documentation. It is not uncommon for courts to invalidate wills and trusts if they were not properly drafted or executed. For this reason, having an experienced attorney on your side helps you ensure that your estate plan complies with all of the applicable legal requirements and guidelines.

  • Trust administration. An attorney can assist people who perform the duties of trustees when administering trusts. Navigating the trust administration process can be complicated, which is why trustees may need an attorney when carrying out their duties.

  • Probate administration. The administration of probate can be confusing for individuals named as executors of someone's will. For this reason, contacting a lawyer can help navigate the process with little to no stress and handle all aspects of probate administration properly.

Estate Planning Attorneys in Bakersfield, California

Your family is probably the most important thing to you. If the needs of your loved ones are of paramount importance, consider crafting an estate plan. Having a knowledgeable team of attorneys can help you plan for your future appropriately. At Underwood Law Firm, we assist clients in California with all aspects of estate planning. Schedule an appointment with us to discuss your estate planning needs.