Navigating the processes to secure property and other assets postmortem seems a daunting task, one for which professional help can be a lifesaver.
Fortunately, Brentwood is home to not one, but two attorneys who specialize in estate planning and can help you draft a will, living trust and healthcare directive to ensure you are prepared for any eventuality.
Edward Younger has been practicing law for nine years. He said he recommends his clients invest in a complete plan that covers all eventualities.
“Some people do a will without a power of attorney, or just power of attorney, sometimes they overlook a trust,” he said. “I see a lot of people with questions, they don’t understand the difference between a will and a living trust.”
Younger said the difference is fairly simply – a will drags property and assets through a public court process, while a living trust allows assets to be handled privately, quickly and at far less cost.
“Probate court is expensive,” Younger said, noting fees are charged on a graduated scale based on the value of the assets. “You can pass property through a will, but it goes through the probate court . . . you can easily be looking at $10,000, $15,000 or $25,000.”
He added a quick probate case will take approximately nine months. Some cases take years.
Another document he recommended is a health care directive.
“I think every adult needs to have one,” Younger said. “Part of that complete plan should be your health care directive. That’s not related to your finances but should be part of the complete planning process.”
Younger said he sees many people who put off estate planning, or try to do it themselves and make errors, suffer the consequences.
Ruth Buzzard is also an estate planning attorney in Brentwood. With 30 years of experience under her belt, she can offer her clients everything they need to prepare for the unexpected.
“With the revocable living trust package, there is a series of documents that are prepared and all of them are necessary for various things,” she said.
Her package includes paperwork giving both general and durable powers of attorney, allowing a person of your choosing the ability to pay your bills for you or make decisions should you become incapacitated.
“Anyone who has property in the state of California should be interested in an estate plan,” Buzzard said. “If you don’t create an estate plan, the state of California has one already done. It may not be the people you want to get your stuff, so you want to be sure you have an estate plan in place so the people you want to actually receive things, do.”
Buzzard said she occasionally finds a client does not want to prepare a living trust, preferring to leave their property distribution to a will. She said this is due to a misconception that creating a living trust is transferring their property to someone else.
“There’s no reason to go through probate, and if you have a trust, you can avoid that,” she said. “(With a trust), you are creating an entity on paper. It’s just like if you own a company, and decide you want to incorporate – you aren’t transferring your business to someone else. Now, rather than being the sole proprietor, you are the corporate officers. It’s the same with a trust, you create a legal entity on paper, and you are the initial trustee.”
The Law Offices of Edward Younger are located at 420 Beatrice Court, Suite G1, in Brentwood. For more information, call 925-420-4111 or visit https://edwardyoungerlaw.com/.
The Buzzard Law Firm is located at 729 First St., Suite D, in Brentwood. For more information, call 925-516-7459 or visit https://law-offices-of-ruth-n-buzzard.business.site/.