Estate Planning

The future may be uncertain, but your Estate Plan doesn’t have to be!

Let MMZ Law protect your estate and your loved ones from whatever the future may bring.  Estate planning is crucial. We at MMZ Law can show you what a customized Estate Plan can do for you!

Helping You Develop a Comprehensive Estate Plan That Protects Your Assets and Provides for Your Loved Ones

If you’re like most of us, you probably use a planner or the calendar app to know what’s coming ahead for the next day, week, or month. It’s often easier to make a to-do list or deal with what’s most pressing in the current moment than to think about what may happen in the distant future. But estate planning doesn’t have to be depressing, and it isn’t something that’s reserved only for those at the end of their lives. Estate planning is a critical component of planning for your future and being able to rest easy in the knowledge that your affairs are in order.

What does a typical Estate Plan include?

Every Estate Plan is unique, but most will include:

Contact MMZ Law today to learn more about how we can customize your Estate Plan or review and revise an existing Estate Plan to reflect your current situation. 

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Pour Over Will

A Pour Over Will is your Last Will and Testament.  It covers a variety of different instructions and is designed to “pour” any unassigned assets into a Living Trust when you pass.  It ensures that your estate is distributed to the Trustee of your Trust, so that your estate and your legacy are handled according to your wishes.  Essentially, it minimizes the probate process and works to keep your estate out of Probate Court.

Female estate planning attorney in black outfit talking to a client in her office

Revocable Trust

A Revocable Living Trust is an important part of your Estate Plan.  It is a legal document that determines the future of your estate when you pass.  This document allows you to transfer ownership of the various parts of your estate into a legally protected document.  It is “revocable” because it is fluid.  You can make changes to this document, and even cancel it, at any point up until your death.

Female estate planning attorney in black outfit talking to a client in her office

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A Healthcare Power of Attorney assigns an individual of your choosing the power to make all healthcare related decisions on your behalf when you are incapacitated and no longer able.  It gives them the final say in all things medical related, such as what treatments you receive, what medications you should be taking, your care, etc.  They work alongside your health care providers, to determine the best care and treatments that you need, in conjunction with your specific wishes that you have previously specified.

Old school document stamp and law book with a gavel and law books in the background

Financial Power of Attorney

A Financial Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints an individual of your choosing to manage your financial decisions when you are unable.  They are responsible for undertaking such tasks as paying your bills, managing your investments, filing your taxes and so much more.  They also manage all financial, business, real estate and other monetary affairs on your behalf.

Old school document stamp and law book with a gavel and law books in the background

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Basic Components of an Estate Plan?

Each person’s estate plan will be different, depending on the type and value of their assets and what their goals are. In general, an estate plan should include a last will and testament as a minimum. Other estate planning documents that are good to have in an estate plan include a financial power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, an advance directive or a living will, and a trust. When you meet with an estate planning attorney, they will go over all of the options with you and help you choose the tools that best fit your needs.

Who Should I Choose to Be an Executor or Trustee?

Many people automatically choose close family members to serve as executors or trustees, but this shouldn’t necessarily be the default option. The duties of an executor or trustee are significant and encompass a wide range of tasks, from dealing with creditors to valuing assets. It can be very helpful if the person has a background in estate planning or financial matters. It’s also important to choose someone who is already familiar with your finances and estate and is someone you trust to execute your wishes faithfully and in accordance with the law.

What Is Estate Litigation?

Estate litigation involves legal disputes between the parties involved in an estate. While it’s not unusual for there to be issues with family dynamics or heightened emotions after someone dies, estate litigation happens when these challenges arise to a higher level. For example, it’s not uncommon for a beneficiary to be disappointed in what’s left of their inheritance after the estate is settled and creditors are paid. But estate litigation might happen if the beneficiary believes that the executor didn’t properly execute their duties. If you are dealing with challenges during the probate process, estate planning attorneys who have experience with estate litigation can help.

What Happens If I Don't Have a Will?

If you die without a will, the courts will make decisions about who should serve as administrator of your estate and who will inherit your assets. It’s possible for family members to petition to be named administrator of your estate, but if no one is willing to serve in this role, the courts will appoint a third party. Your estate will be settled and any remaining assets distributed among your beneficiaries following California’s intestate succession laws. This could result in your spouse, adult children, parents, or siblings being beneficiaries of your estate, depending on what living relatives you leave behind.

Do I Need a Living Will?

A living will is a specific estate planning tool and is something most people should have. A living will is a legal document that outlines your wishes for your medical treatment and care if you are ever incapacitated. It is a completely different document than a last will and testament, which covers your wishes for what should happen with your assets after your death. In a living will, you can specify things like whether you want to be kept on life support, if you have preferences for what kind of pain medications you would like to receive, or what medical facility you want to be taken to for treatment. A living will is an important part of your larger estate plan when paired with a health care power of attorney.

Do Trusts Bypass Probate?

Avoiding probate is one of the main advantages of using a trust to pass along your assets to your beneficiaries. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust means that the person who created it — who is called the trustor or grantor — can make changes to the trust anytime they want up until they die. These changes can range from putting assets into the trust, taking assets out of the trust, or changing the beneficiaries. An irrevocable trust is the opposite. Once these trusts are created, they are not easily changed and generally must stay as they are with the terms they were created under. Both of these options have their own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to work with an attorney to get trust and estate counsel for your situation.

How Do I Ensure My Minor Children Are Taken Care Of?

The best way to ensure that your estate plan includes provisions for your minor children is to work with an estate planning attorney as part of the process. Estate planning attorneys are uniquely equipped to be able to provide information, including potential benefits and drawbacks, about all of your estate planning options. They can help you make plans for guardianships, create trusts for asset protection, and ensure that your will is up-to-date and legally valid. Taking the time to create a comprehensive estate plan ensures you don’t have to worry about what might happen to your children if something happens to you.

What Is a Special Needs Trust?

A special needs trust is a particular type of trust that protects assets from being counted toward eligibility requirements for programs like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income. A special needs trust can provide for other expenses that the beneficiary may incur. Some common examples include paying for a companion caregiver or a sitter. Funds from a special needs trust can also be used to pay for medical expenses that aren’t covered by Medicaid or other benefits. A special needs trust can be set up as a first-party trust or a third-party trust, depending on the person’s needs and situation. A first-party trust contains assets that are owned by the beneficiary, while a third-party trust contains assets that are not owned by the beneficiary.