Newport Beach Estate Planning Lawyer

Home | Newport Beach Estate Planning Lawyer

Estate Planning Attorney in Newport Beach, CA

Searching for a reputable Newport Beach estate planning lawyer can be daunting as you contemplate the future of your own loved ones after your passing. To protect your assets and ensure they’re distributed as you wish, a comprehensive estate plan is necessary. Many people are aware that they should begin the estate planning process but do not know where or when to begin.

Davis Toft has over twenty years of experience in helping clients navigate the legal intricacies of estate planning in California. No matter your circumstances or place in the process, we can carefully review your specific case, do the necessary research and discovery, and offer hands-on, individualized support coupled with open communication about potential costs. Transparency, experience, and fairness are the hallmarks of our firm and the work we do for the Newport Beach community.

What Is an Estate Plan in Newport Beach, California?

Estate planning can be done at any point in life, but many individuals find themselves contemplating the division of their Newport Beach estate once they have passed on as they become older. Following a person’s death, if there exists no clear plan as to how assets are to be divided and distributed, as well as any other financial issues such as taxes and debt, there is no easy way to ensure your property will be given to the parties you prefer.

Moreover, forgoing estate planning can result in discord between family members and undue stress as they struggle to determine how to deal with your estate in a way that is fair, equitable, and legal.

Some people think that making unofficial requests is sufficient, even as they lay on their deathbed, and that their beneficiaries will honor their wishes. The fact is that assets such as real estate, businesses, personal property worth money or sentimental value, bank accounts, stock/brokerage accounts, and other belongings often end up in the wrong hands or tied up in probate court for months or even years when there is no estate plan in place.

Estate planning not only requires designating who will receive various assets of your estate but also involves naming trustees or executors. These people are in charge of carrying out your instructions according to your estate plan after you pass on. This is not a decision to be taken lightly, as this person will have significant responsibility.

Taxes are another potential unseen obstacle for families. Estate plans can decrease or even eradicate future taxes for beneficiaries, but this is a complex and time-consuming process that should be overseen by a seasoned attorney. Each estate plan is singularly unique due to its personal nature and number of assets, and an attorney could determine the optimal plan regarding taxes for your specific case.

Throughout the estate planning process, certain documents and designations are necessary in accordance with your specific needs. Our legal team assists clients in preparing documents such as trusts, wills, powers of attorney, advance health care directives, and beneficiary designation forms.

Newport Beach Estate Planning, Probate & Trust Administration Overview


Do I Need an Estate Planning Attorney?

The services of an estate planning attorney are not required under California law. However, it can be difficult, stressful, time-consuming, and possibly even more expensive if it results in a contentious dispute over a loved one’s estate after their passing.

With regard to your own estate planning, it is advantageous to ensure your plan is airtight in terms of legality and in accordance with your wishes. This way, you can take comfort in knowing your family and future generations will receive your assets as you desire and will be taken care of in your absence.

Hiring a dependable and knowledgeable attorney can afford you the peace of mind you deserve when they take care of all the details of your plan in accordance with the technicalities of California estate law.

Your estate planning lawyer should understand how to organize and file information correctly to ensure your wishes are met, and they can provide advice on what estate planning choices would be effective in your case. A determined and compassionate attorney can help ensure you understand every nuance of the process and guide you toward the optimal outcome, no matter your circumstances.

Understanding Trusts

Trusts are a way to guard your assets after you have passed. A trust is essentially an account in which you can secure your assets while assigning another individual, or the trustee, to care for your account and the holdings within. Many different types of trusts exist, including charitable trusts, special needs trusts, and irrevocable trusts, among others.

A trust is often recommended because it offers increased protection against excessive tax burdens on your loved ones and caretakers, and it could help your estate avoid probate.

Creating a trust prior to your own passing enables you to designate a trustee. This trustee is much like the executor of a will, and they will assume the responsibility of carrying out your specific stipulations regarding your assets. A trust that has been prepared by a reputable, hands-on attorney with years of experience in California estate law may prevent your trust from getting tied up for months or even years in probate court.

A revocable trust is something you should consider if there’s any possibility of a need to change the terms of the trust in your lifetime. If taxes remain a concern, you may be able to further minimize them by crafting an irrevocable trust, which becomes utterly final once drafted. Irrevocable trusts can only be changed with a court order and the permission of the beneficiaries, while you can change anything within a revocable trust at any time.

Trusts can also give you more control over your finances while you’re still alive. Wills come into effect only when you pass away, but depending on the type of trust you could create, you could use it to distribute assets to beneficiaries at any time. For example, if you want to distribute finances to your child after they turn 18 or graduate college, you could put this stipulation into a trust. Your child will then be able to receive the assets at this specified time, whether you’re still living or not.

Understanding Wills

Wills are more common than trusts in estate planning. A will is a document that depicts a detailed description of the distribution of a person’s assets after their passing. Individuals who craft a will include a list of assets, such as cars, properties, bank accounts, and other items that have monetary or sentimental value to the person or their family members.

It is not necessary or even recommended to wait on creating your will until later in life, especially if your health is failing. Wills are a safety measure that can be crafted anytime, and it is never too early in adulthood to begin the process. Doing so will allow you to name the beneficiaries you deem appropriate to receive your assets, whatever they may be.

If you have minors or other dependents in your life that require your care, a will can also ensure their protection if you pass on before they come of age. Untimely deaths are unpredictable, but you can use a will to name a potential guardian whom you trust in the event of your passing. If you pass away without naming a guardian, your children could be put into the foster care system if no family members step in to take custody.

All wills require a person known as an executor to be in charge of distributing your assets to whomever you outlined in the document. Legally, they are bound to adhere to your wishes, which affords your loved ones an additional layer of protection against potential disputes and time and costs spent in probate court.

An individual who neglects to craft a will complete with a named executor is handing this responsibility over to the court. The court must then rule that any of the assets, taxes, and debts left in the wake of the deceased are handed over to the next of kin, no matter what unofficial wishes may have been expressed prior to the person’s passing.

What Is Probate?

If the decedent has any assets outside of a trust or has any unresolved debts, such as unpaid taxes and personal loans, then probate court is necessary. A will alone won’t prevent probate. If a will was created, a judge will verify if it is valid under the eyes of the law, and the executor will oversee the distribution of assets as described in the will. If there is no will or if the will is invalid, the court will distribute assets to the next of kin and tie up other loose ends.

Even if you made a trust and chose a trustee, there is still a possibility that your documents will need to be reviewed in probate. If your will or trust is thorough and legally valid, your beneficiaries have a better chance of quickly accessing your assets upon your death, and further disputes and litigation are less likely. A reputable estate planning attorney can help ensure that your documents are legally sound.

What Is the Cost of Estate Planning in California?

Costs for estate planning vary depending on the individual’s needs and the type of plan they determine is right for themselves and their loved ones. When determining the type of plan to craft, your estate planning attorney can advise you on the most appropriate course of action, which is directly influenced by the assets you own.

In California, the costs for an estate attorney can run anywhere from a flat fee of about $300 to over $7,000, and depending on the amount of assets and the complexity of the plan, potentially more.

For instance, if you do not own a home and if your assets are below the California probate threshold, which is $184,500 to date, then you can rest easy knowing your estate will not go through probate. In this situation, a will is sufficient to avoid probate. Creating a will is less complex and expensive than creating a trust.

However, an experienced estate planning lawyer can also advise you to create a durable power of attorney and advance health care directive so that your family and other trusted persons can make financial and health decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated.

Living Trusts

If you own a home and any other properties or businesses, it may be better to create a living trust to protect your family from a costly and frustrating time in probate. A living trust estate plan has the following inclusions:

  • Living Trust
  • Schedule of Trust Property
  • Certification of Trust
  • Pour-Over Will
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Advance Health Care Directive and HIPAA Release Authority
  • Grant Deed to transfer the title of your home to your trust

Having a complete, airtight living trust in California can ensure you and your loved ones are protected from unwanted probate and other potential setbacks and costs. It is essential to review your options with a seasoned trust attorney so you can understand everything clearly before embarking on the task of creating your personal estate plan.

Davis Toft Can Help With Your Estate Planning Needs

Estate planning can be emotionally and mentally taxing. The intricacies of estate law and the time involved in inventorying assets, making potentially difficult decisions, and communicating with family members, beneficiaries, and trustees make it a difficult process. However, a compassionate and hands-on legal professional can effectively ease much of the burden. Davis Toft has the experience, empathy, and determination to make the process as smooth as possible.

Davis Toft has a superb reputation in the Newport Beach community for helping clients of all ages and circumstances with their estate planning needs. Regardless of your situation and the size of your estate, Davis Toft can be there to craft the estate plan that’s right for you. To learn more about how our outstanding legal team can support you, contact our office today. We look forward to consulting with you about your unique case so that you can move forward knowing your legal options.