One of the most common misconceptions that people have when researching estate planning and elder law is that not consulting an attorney is the best way to save money. In reality, attempting to handle complicated elder law issues without legal advice can create serious problems that negatively affect you and your heirs.

On April 21, 2016, internationally famous singer and songwriter Prince passed away at the age of 57 leaving behind an estate worth approximately $250 million. The fiercely private musician who created waves in the music industry by exerting complete control over his musical catalog left behind no will giving instructions regarding the use or distribution of his music or likeness.  His estate and siblings have started the drawn-out administration process that is expected to be tedious and expensive. Planning for the distribution of your own estate and possible incapacitation due to ill health with the assistance of an elder law attorney can save more money than what you would spend in legal fees to clear up issues such as these.

Avoid Tax Problems

Each year United States tax filers are faced with penalties and fines for failing to file personal or business taxes on time or not paying the correct amount. The Internal Revenue Service has estimated that American taxpayers owe over $80 billion in penalties, interest, and unpaid taxes.  When a loved one passes away, one of the duties of the estate administrator is preparing a final tax return.

During a stressful period, completing this task without the assistance of an attorney can create additional complications for the estate including underpaying or overpaying taxes. After the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the Academy Award Winning actor’s family was forced to pay millions in taxes, drastically reducing the value of his estate. Consulting an estate attorney can help you protect your heirs by creating a trust or exploring other options that ensure their inheritance is not drastically reduced because of tax related fees or penalties.

Prevent Drawn Out Probate

The probate process is one of the most talked about, and greatly feared, part of distributing an estate. Depending on the size of the estate, probate can be complex and time-consuming as the court ensures that the wishes of the deceased are executed properly while creditors are not overlooked. During the probate process, certain expenses associated with the estate such as property taxes must be paid, and if an estate consists of mostly tangible assets with no liquidity, maintaining the estate can quickly become expensive for the heirs. An attorney is able to help you determine if creating a living trust is less expensive and more practical than an estate plan that later leads to probate.

 Talk to a Lawyer

The best way to find out if an elder law attorney is a right choice for you is to schedule a consultation with a local lawyer. After discussing your assets, wishes regarding their distribution, possible debts, and proposed heirs, an attorney can help you determine what estate choices are right for you. MMZ Law is prepared to provide you with an objective assessment of your situation and help you begin moving in the right direction. Contact us today at our Claremont, California location to schedule an appointment so that we can talk about your unique situation.

*We service Elder Law through Medi-Cal Asset Protection Planning



341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.