Heather Lynn Holmes
Estate Planning Attorney
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does a will do? A will provides for the distribution of your estate after you pass away. It also can provide for guardianship for minor children and can be set up to provide to Step-children, God-children and even friends. You can also choose your own Executor (the person who will carry out your wishes).
2. What a will does NOT do? A will does not protect against creditors. A will does not avoid probate. A will still must be brought to court and administered in the presence of a judge (unless the Estate’s value is under $150k). A will is not the same thing as a Trust.
3. What is the difference between a Will and a Trust? A trust and a Will are both documents, which allow for distribution of assets, the ability to appoint an Executor or a Trustee and describe what your wishes are after death. A Trust, however, does not go to court (probate), it protects your beneficiaries from creditors and Medicaid payback, and it is a more secure way of protecting your home after you are gone.
4. What does the Estate Plan package include? A Trust, a Durable Power of Attorney, an Advanced Healthcare Directive, and a Will, plus new deeds for your property.
5. Does California have an Estate Tax or an Inheritance Tax? No. California does not have either one of these taxes, which is why a Living Trust, or Revocable Trust works perfectly in California and protects your beneficiaries from having to pay a tax on your estate upon receipt. (There is a Federal Tax but this only applies to a single person estate valued at $5.49 million or above and $11 million or above for a couple.)
6. Why should I have a Healthcare Directive? A healthcare directive allows you to express your wishes regarding your health care and even end of life decisions in a situation where you may be unable to communicate these wishes to your physician. You are able to appoint the person you WANT and TRUST to be in this role and this is a source of comfort for you and is preferred by physicians. Letting your family know in advance what you wish to happen prevents family members from making these hard decisions, especially when they will already be emotional.
7. What is Probate? Probate is a formal legal process which varies slightly by state. Probate will give legal recognition to a will and will appoint the Executor if one has not been designated prior.
8. How much does Probate cost? California probate code section 10810 determines the cost of probate, which does not include filing fees and other fees that can be accrued if there are feuding family members and complex estate matters.
(1) Four percent on the first one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).
(2) Three percent on the next one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).
(3) Two percent on the next eight hundred thousand dollars ($800,000).
(4) One percent on the next nine million dollars ($9,000,000).
(5) One-half of 1 percent on the next fifteen million dollars ($15,000,000).
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an paralegal-client relationship.