Every adult, regardless of what they own, needs an estate plan to take care of those they love.

A personalized estate plan allows you to establish a plan that will work to take care of you and all the people who count on you. You will name trusted successors to step into your shoes when the time comes, instead of letting a court choose for you.

In my relationship-based approach, we will work together to create a plan based on your values and tailored to protect your assets and your loved ones. By the end of our process, I want you to feel confident and prepared. 

A will might be appropriate when you do not have minor children or own real estate, and your assets subject to probate are under $150,000. Everyone over the age of 18 should have a will plan at the very minimum.

This plan includes:

  • Will
  • Durable power of attorney for financial matters
  • Advance health care directive for the client and all of the client’s adult children
  • Counsel regarding asset protection

Real estate is often subject to probate if it is not held in a revocable trust. Placing real estate in a revocable trust does not limit your ability to sell, transfer, or refinance the property. Joint tenancy is not a substitution for a trust.

  • Transfer of real estate to trust
  • Revocable trust (with associated certification and asset transfers)
  • Pour-over will
  • Durable power of attorney
  • Advance health care directive
  • Counsel regarding asset protection

Minor children do not have the legal capacity to inherit. With a personalized trust, parents decide when their children receive their inheritance–at specified ages, for specified purposes and with specified limitations.

With De Fonte Law’s unique multi-page guardianship nomination form, you can designate not only who will take care of your children, but also how. Parents can express their preferences for education, religion, continued relationships with friends and family members, and their values and vision for their children.

  • Revocable trust (with associated certification and asset transfers)
  • Transfer of real estate to trust if needed
  • Pour-over will
  • Durable power of attorney
  • Advance health care directive
  • Counsel regarding asset protection

California’s Default Estate Plan

Here’s what would happen if you die or become incapacitated without a personalized estate plan.

Conservatorship: If you are unable to manage your own financial affairs or advocate for your own health care decisions, you might be conserved. This is an expensive court process that exposes your frailties to the public. The court assigns someone to act as your agent to make decisions for you.

Probate: Estates valued over $150,000 may be subject to probate. Your assets, creditors and beneficiaries become public record in court filings. Your assets will be frozen until the court grants an executor permission to make distributions. The executor and an attorney are each entitled to 4% of the first $100,000 of the gross value of the probate estate, 3% of the next $100,000, 2% of the next $800,000, and 1% of the next $9 million.

Minor children: Minor children will be placed where it is “necessary and convenient” until guardianship proceedings are held.

Style: My estate plans are highly personalized. We start with an in-depth conversation to establish your mission and vision for yourself, your loved ones, and your legacy. From there, I use the latest drafting software and tailor your plan.

Location: I know how overextended parents are. That’s why I extend my services to clients’ homes. Or if you prefer to get out of the house, we can meet at my office. Either way, you get apple pie at signing.

Beyond the estate plan: My process includes a  broad discussion about your exposure to risk and how insurance, entity formation, and post-nuptial agreements can help you mitigate risk in your unique situation.

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