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Estate Planning Services

ALA's Estate Planning Areas of Practice

Affordable Legal Assistance, Inc., is here to help you in all your legal needs in the following areas of Wills and Trusts:

  • Wills
  • Codiciles
  • Living Trusts
  • Living Wills
  • Power of Attorney
  • Admentments and Restatement of Trusts
  • Living Trust Complete: Living Trust, Pour Over Will, Power of Attorney, Advance Healthcare Directive, Living Wills, Assignments to Trust, Deed to Trust, Minutes to Trust, Document Locator, Burial Instructions, Certification of Trust, Schedule of Trust Assets, Transfer Letters, Detailed Reference.

Several Trust Options Available


here are two basic types of trusts: Living Trust (where all property is placed into the Trust now) and Testamentary Trust (where all property is placed in the Trust through a Pour-Over Will after your death):

  1. Revocable Trusts - Allow you to retrain control of all the assets in the trust, and you are free to revoke or change the terms of the trust at any time. With irrevocable trusts, the assets in it are no longer yours, and typically you can't make changes without the beneficiary's consent.
  2. Credit Shelter Trusts - This is also called a bypass or family trust. You write a will bequeathing an amount to the trust up to but not exceeding the estate-tax exemption. You pass the rest of your estate to your spouse tax-free. There is also an added bonus. Once money is placed in a bypass trust; it is forever free of estate tax, even if it grows.
  3. Generation-Skipping Trusts -This allows you to transfer a substantial amount of money tax-free to beneficiaries who are at least two generations your junior - typically your grandchildren.
  4. Qualified Personal Residence Trusts - This can remove the value of your home or vacation dwelling from your estate and is particularly useful if your home is likely to appreciate in value.
  5. Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts - This can remove your life insurance from your taxable estate, help pay estate costs, and provide your heirs with cash for a variety of purposes. To remove the policy from your estate, you surrender ownership rights, which means you may no longer borrow against it or change beneficiaries. In return, the proceeds from the policy may be used to pay any estate costs after you die and provide your beneficiaries with tax-free income.
  6. Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust - If you're part of a family in which there have been divorces, remarriages, and stepchildren, you may want to direct your assets to particular relatives through a qualified terminable interest trust. Your surviving spouse will receive income from the trust, and the beneficiaries you specify (your children from a first marriage) will get the principal or remainder after your spouse dies.
  7. Special Needs Trusts - This trust is designed to hold assets for the benefit of an individual who is receiving public benefits and to help that person without disturbing their eligibility for SSI, Medi-Cal, Section 8 Housing, Disability Benefits, etc. The Special Needs Trust assets are used to supplement public benefits. The trust pays for items and services that the public benefits system does not provide.
  8. Charitable Remainder Trusts - Money is gifted into an irrevocable trust that pays out a certain amount of income to the trust beneficiaries over a period of time, based on an annuity payout schedule. After these payments are made, the rest of the charitable trust's assets, the "remainder", is given to selected chartiable beneficiaries. Many charitable organizations encourage these trusts, and some of them will even pay the legal fees for setting them up.

Appoint an Agent With Power of Attorney


new law, the California Health Care Decisions Act (HCDA), affirms the right of each individual to give instructions about his/ her health care.

  1. Appointing and Agent - You may appoint anyone as your "Agent" (your spouse, son/daughter, friend) to make health care decisions for you, if and when you cannot do so for yourself. It allows the important informed consent process to be carried out through your designated agent. Your agent will make decisions as you would most likely want them made. The person you name in your document should know whether or not you want such treatment. S/he will either grant or refuse permission on your behalf. Significantly, a physician who respects the decision of your agent cannot be held liable for doing so.
  2. Health Care Instructions - In addition to appointing an agent, you may also give health care instructions. You may explain how you want to be treated if, for example, you are permanently incapaciated and/or imminently facing death and are unable to make your own decisions about suggested life-sustaining treatment. This includes but is not limited to your desires regading "pulling-the-plug" and "resuscitation".
  3. Organ Donation - You can specify to your agent your desire to become or not become an organ donor. If you opt to give the gift of life post-mortum, you can specify the degree of organ donation: major organs only, vital organ and tissues, or full body donation to medical science.
  4. Burial Preparations - You can specify to your agent whether you want to be buried whole, cremated, or have your ashes scattered or divided amongst multiple family members.
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Your Questions

What is Estate Planning?


here are three, primary levels of estate planning available in California. We offer a complete, estate planning package at an unbeatable price, as well as individual document preparation services on a flat-fee basis.

  1. WILL: Thee first and least complicated level of estate planning is a Will, which allows you to determine who will get what when you die. Everyone should prepare an enforceable will.
  2. LIVING TRUST: The second level of planning ensures that your beneficiaries will be able to avoid the time and expense of Probate, which in most situations requires a Living Trust. A living trust is a legal document that controls that use and transfer of any property you have placed in trust. When you die, your named beneficiaries receive the property. It is essentially a will that allows you the huge added benefit of avoiding probate.
  3. AB TRUST: The third and most complicated level of estate planning is intended to avoid or reduce Estate Taxes, which is typically done by married couples through two, successive trusts, but can be performed by unmarried couples and individuals, as well. These irrevocable trusts are most effective when used by married couples with combined assets exceeding the estate tax threshold.

Why Should I Create An Estate Plan?


pproximately 70% of us die without a will or trust. Many people share the common misconception that only the wealthiness need a will/trust or that the process of making one is complicated or costly. It is far more costly for your heirs to endure probate than for you to make a trust. Probate is usually costly and burdensome. Since all property left by a Will must normally go through Probate, a Trust is highly recommended.

Without a will/trust, you leave important decisions to someone else to make after your death. If you die without a will/trust, the Law of Intestate Succession decides who gets your real and personal property, rather than you. A Will/Trust allows you to specify how your assets will be distributed and how taxes, if any, will be paid. You can also select whomever you wish to administer your affairs. Most people do not realize that their surviving spouse is frequently required under the laws of intestate succession to share the estate with the children. It is common for first marriage children to evict the second marriage spouse from the marital home, leaving the grieving widow destitute and homeless. Some families have heirs with special needs or the inability to spend large amount sof inheritance responsibly. A special needs and spendthrift trust can assist in these circumstances.

Am I Too Young To Estate Plan?


any people tend to think: "I'm way too young to be thinking about death, and I don't even have that much, so my situations is simple." This can be a very costly mindset. One should think of setting up a Will/Trust as obtaining, "peace of mind". The peace of mind is your ticket to knowing that even if the worst should happen, you have prepared and made it as easly as possible for your loved ones. Obviously, no one knows exactly when something bad will happen to them or a loved one, but as far as Wills/Trusts is concerned, "It's better to be safe than sorry". Moreover, a good rule of thumb is that if you have an estate value of over $100,000; you need a Trust.

Contact  us at (951) 506-0996 for your free telephone consultation.