The Law Office of Megan N. Bowker works directly with our clients to develop tailored estate plans. Whether your estate is large or small, you should have an estate plan. An estate plan allows you to designate someone to manage your assets and make health care and personal decisions for you if you ever become unable to do so. This may be the most important aspect of an estate plan.
We offer the following estate planning services:
- Advance Health Care Directives
- Durable Power of Attorneys
- Living Trusts
- Trust Amendments
- Trust Administration
- Estate and Trust Litigation
Protect Your Family and Loved Ones
Establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your family and loved ones. A proper estate plan not only ensures that your wishes upon disability, incapacitation or death are honored, it can spare your loved ones the expense, delay and frustration associated with managing your affairs should you become disabled, incapacitated or pass away.
Your assets, held in your name alone or jointly with others, include bank accounts, real estate, stocks and bonds, furniture, cars and jewelry. Your assets may also include life insurance proceeds, retirement accounts and payments that are due to you.
Without a proper estate plan, a judge will appoint someone to handle your assets, and as such, your assets will be distributed in accordance with California law – perhaps contrary to your wishes. Also, your estate and the value of your assets will become a public record. A proper estate plan gives you control over how your estate is distributed and keeps your affairs private.
Plan for Incapacity
Also, without a proper estate plan, a judge will appoint someone to handle your personal care should you become disabled or incapacitated. Your estate plan should designate someone to immediately take over for you in this event. Without a proper estate plan, your loved ones cannot automatically take over your affairs should you become disabled or incapacitated or make decisions on your behalf about medical treatment options – they must petition the court to declare you legally incompetent. This process can be lengthy, costly and stressful.
Raising Your Children
If you have minor children, it is important that your estate plan address the upbringing of your children should you become disabled, incapacitated or pass away. Otherwise, a judge will decide without your input where your children will live and who will make important decisions about their money, education and way of life.
You should give careful thought to the person you designate to care for your children. Consider whether or not they share the same parenting values you have and make sure you are comfortable with their child-rearing skills. You may also want to consider the financial burden on your children’s designated caregiver and provide accordingly in your estate plan. You may also want to consider the financial burden on your children’s designated caregiver and provide accordingly in your estate plan.
A will is a legal document in which you give certain instructions to be carried out after your death. With a will, you can direct the distribution of your assets and giver your choice of guardians for your children. However, a will may not be enough.
Advanced Health Care Directive
Under an advance health care directive, you can designate someone to make your health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so. You can also include your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment, organ donation, disposition of remains and other health care issues.
Durable Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document, which gives another person the right and authority to act on your behalf. It can be limited to special circumstances or general.
A living trust is a written legal document that partially substitutes for a will. With a living trust, your assets are put into the trust, administered for your benefit during your lifetime, and then transferred to your beneficiaries when you die.
Whether or not to create a trust is a personal decision. Young married couples without significant assets and without children, who intend to leave their assets to each other when the first one of them dies do not necessarily need a living trust. However, if the couple should die at the same time, or shortly after each other, without a trust, their estate(s) may be subject to probate and a judge will decide how their estate is distributed.
Individuals who have assets that are not in a living trust when they die or do not otherwise pass to a designated beneficiary and the total of such assets exceed California’s specified threshold, the assets are subject to probate. Probate is a court supervised process for transferring assets to the beneficiaries listed in one’s will. Probate can take more time to complete than the distribution of property held in a living trust. Assets also tied up in probate may not be as readily accessible to the beneficiaries as those held in a living trust. The cost of a probate is often greater than the cost of managing and distributing comparable assets held in a living trust.
With proper planning, your assets can pass on to your loved ones without undergoing probate, in a manner that is quick, inexpensive and private.
You should review your trust at least every three years to verify that the terms of your trust match your current testamentary wishes.If your trust no longer reflects your current testamentary wishes and your trust permits modification, our office can assist you with modifications that accurately reflect your current testamentary wishes.
We represent professional and non-professional trustees and beneficiaries in all aspects of trust administration.
We advise and assist executors and beneficiaries in connection with probate administration. Probate is a court-supervised process for transferring your assets after your death to the beneficiaries listed in your will. The probate process is public and your estate plan and the value of your assets become a public record. Probate generally takes longer and may cost more than the administration of a living trust.
Estate and Trust Litigation
We represent executors, trustees and beneficiaries in disputes arising in the administration of a trust or a probate estate.