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Frequently Asked Questions
Common questions about Estate Planning and Medi-Cal Planning, Probate, Wills, Living Trusts, Conservatorship, and more.
What is Medi-Cal Planning?
Medi–Cal is the only government program that will cover the cost of long-term care in a skilled care facility. The process of Medi–Cal planning is to properly protect the financial integrity of the individual(s) while getting them the benefits they currently need or might need in the future.
Learn more about Medi-Cal Planning
What is the difference between a will and a trust?
A will is a legal document that details exactly how you want your affairs handled and how your assets should be distributed to your heirs after you die. A trust is a fiduciary relationship in which a trustor gives a trustee the right to hold title to property or assets for the benefit of a third party.
What happens if I die without a will?
When someone dies without a will in California they are said to be “intestate”. The intestacy laws found in the California Probate Code will dictate who will inherit the estate. Assets will be distributed to surviving relatives in a specific order, whether they are a surviving spouse, children, parents or other relatives.
How can my estate avoid probate?
In California, you can have an estate planning attorney create a living trust to avoid probate for just about any asset you own, including your home, other real estate, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, vehicles, and more. You will need to have an attorney create a trust document that is similar to a will. The trust document will name someone to take over as trustee after your death. This person is also called a successor trustee.
Who needs a Power of Attorney?
Anyone who wants to grant permission to another person to perform certain legal acts on his or her behalf needs a power of attorney (also known as a POA). A power of attorney document enables another person to handle financial matters, make health care decisions, or even care for your underage children.
What assets make up my estate?
Estate Assets are typically comprised of:
- Publicly Traded Securities (stocks, bonds, mutual funds)
- Real Estate / Home
- Ownership Interest in a business
- Personal property
- Retirement plans like an IRA or 401-k
- Life insurance death benefits
Do I still need a will if I have a living trust?
You may still need a will to capture any assets that may not have been transferred to the trust during your life. A “Pour-Over Will” will transfer assets to your trust. Once you establish a living trust, you must take steps to transfer all of your assets into the trust. Assets that are not in your trust, that do not have beneficiary designations or are not jointly titled with another individual, may still be subject to probate. You should discuss the transfer of tax-deferred assets, such as an IRA, 401-k, or pension plan, with an estate planning attorney or your tax accountant.
What questions do you have?
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Elder Law Services was extremely informative, detailed, and professional in the completion of our Trust.