We can help you develop a flexible plan to carry out your wishes
Estate planning defined: A good estate plan creates a roadmap that is easily administered not only at the time of your passing, but also should you become incapacitated. It also avoids the expense and delay of court proceedings.
Partner and veteran South Bay, CA estate planning attorney Brad Baker explains, “Estate planning is the process of anticipating multiple scenarios and arranging for the trusted people in your life to have the ability to handle matters for each scenario. My goal is to help you determine your intent and draft it unambiguously to memorialize that intent. You should have peace of mind when you sign your documents. If you don’t…we haven’t gotten it right and you shouldn’t be signing! For individuals and families with death tax issues, I work to achieve a plan to minimize taxes while still maintaining flexibility to meet changing circumstances.” Attorney Mary Korkodian works with Brad to help clients maximize their goals and their peace of mind in estate planning.
Do You Need an Estate Plan?
Many people hold the mistaken belief that estate planning is only applicable to wealthy individuals. Regardless of the size of your estate, if you want to handpick the individuals who are to become your trusted facilitators upon your incapacity or passing, you should take the simple steps to set up an estate plan.
There is another common misconception about estate plans. New clients often tell us they don’t have an estate plan yet, and are often surprised to learn that they actually do have a plan already in place: their plan will be to distribute their estate according to California’s laws of intestacy, often with maximum court involvement. We can draft documents for you that replace the terms of the State’s estate plan with your own.
What Legal Documents Are Part of an Estate Plan?
Estate planning can be for an individual or a family, and documents can adapt as your life changes. Typically, an estate plan starts with certain foundational documents, which include:
Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (or Advance Health Care Directive)
Durable Power of Attorney for Asset Management (often combined with DPA-Healthcare)
Durable Special Power of Attorney for Trust Funding
More advanced planning may include irrevocable trusts to own insurance policies, personal residences, and business interests. Another tool used by many involves special gifting opportunities for children and other targeted beneficiaries.
Baker, Burton & Lundy’s Estate Planning Process
Brad Baker says: “Our team here at Baker, Burton & Lundy is committed to developing your plan only after you are shown the building blocks that are at your disposal. I will work closely with you to understand your wishes and those of your family. I am also mindful that keeping matters simple and understandable goes a long way to giving you the peace of mind that is my goal for you.”
“One of the key issues that will be explored during our first face to face meeting is whether you want your distributions to be outright to a beneficiary or in trust for the benefit of the beneficiary. I often recommend setting up a lifetime trust for a child of yours, not because they are incapable of handling finances, but because there are some nice protections that can be created at very little expense and with minimal limitations.”
Here at Baker, Burton & Lundy we are not simply “planners”. We also handle every facet of trust administration for those that planned, and probate administration for those who did not successfully plan. We can help the fiduciary administer the estate plan in the most effective and efficient manner. We do not “create work” for the sake of creating work. We pride ourselves in working with you as a team so that matters that can be handled by you will be given to you. This keeps administration costs manageable and actually empowers our clients.
Is Now the Time to Create Your Estate Plan?
A properly drafted estate plan replaces the State’s default plan with a plan specific to your family and goals. It can provide for you in a time of incapacity, or for your children and loved ones upon your passing. It avoids probate, which adds to costs and delays distribution of the estate. Periodic review is also important because needs can change through life as well as laws. It is important to review your plan with attorneys who keep up with the legal changes in this field.
Additionally, if you want to benefit a charitable organization or cause, your estate plan can provide for such organizations. Ultimately, the goal of any estate plan should be to give the person peace of mind about their future and the future of loved ones.