Palm Springs Wills & Trusts Attorney

Wills and Trusts are important parts of estate planning. If you are in the vicinity of Palm Springs, you are fortunate to have an excellent Wills and Trusts attorney close by. Chris Heritage, the lead attorney of Heritage Legal, is recognized as highly skilled in this area. His comprehensive knowledge of the ins and outs of Wills and Trusts puts his clients at a clear advantage when it comes to protecting their assets and their families. Heritage Legal prides itself on being an inclusive practice so we routinely provide guidance to diverse family groups, including those in the LGBTQ community. Our clients are as deeply appreciative of Chris’ personal concern with their unique issues as of his legal talents.

Why do you need a will?

A Will (or Last Will and Testament) is the document in which you communicate to your family, friends, and the state of California your wishes concerning how your accumulated wealth will be distributed when you die. Heritage Legal prepares Wills efficiently and effectively, always making sure that document we draft and review will be legally binding.

In your Will you stipulate:

  • To whom you want your assets distributed -- not only heirs and beneficiaries, but possibly charitable, educational, or other institutions
  • The person you want as your executor to administer your estate after you’re gone
  • The personal guardian to care for your minor children if they are orphaned by your death
  • The person you trust to manage property you have left to your minor children

Your will may also state your wishes concerning your funeral or memorial service, your burial or cremation, or whether you want to donate your organs or tissues for life-giving or scientific research purposes. You should be aware that Heritage Legal can assist you in changing your Will at any time to remove a beneficiary or to add one. In such a case, the old Will will be destroyed or supplanted.

Heritage Law Will Help You Follow the Rules

Formal Wills are usually drafted by a Will and Trust attorney and signed by the testator (or a chosen substitute) in the presence of two witnesses, neither of whom is a beneficiary. Though a California Will can be handwritten (holographic), oral (nuncupative) wills are not legal in the state. In order to be valid, a California Will must be signed by a person of legal age (18 years or older) and of sound mind.

If you die without a will, known as dying intestate, the court will distribute your assets according to state laws of intestate succession. Such state laws have very specific guidelines, but basically follow this sequence when distributing your assets: spouse, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. You should be aware that if you die without a written Will, your desires about distribution of your assets will not be followed. This is a good reason for consulting a Wills and Trusts attorney like Chris Heritage early in life.

Establishing Trusts That Will Help You and Your Family Most

There are a great many types of trusts, each designed to meet particular estate planning needs. Figuring out which types of trusts, if any, will work best for you and your family is a complicated process, requiring specific knowledge of the legal and financial consequences of each. One of the benefits of working with Heritage Legal is that Chris Heritage will always be responsive to your questions concerning the intricacies of various trusts. Having clarification of the differences among them is essential if you are going to make wise and appropriate choices.

The Purposes of Trusts

Depending on the type of trust you decide is right for you and your loved ones, the trust we create for you may:

  • Protect your funds from unnecessary taxation
  • Control how and when your assets will be distributed after your death
  • Help your loved ones avoid the cost and delay of probate
  • Protect your privacy (since a Will is a public document and a trust is not)

The Heritage Legal team is well-informed and ready to assist you in zeroing in on the trusts most appropriate to your situation. When you create a trust, you are the trustor; the person named to manage the trust is the trustee.

Revocable Living Trusts

Revocable living trusts, also known as an inter vivos trusts, can hold a large proportion of your assets with certain exceptions (such as retirement accounts). The advantages of a revocable trust are that it can be altered or eliminated whenever you wish, as long as you remain mentally competent, and that it avoids the costly, often time-consuming process of probate.

Irrevocable Trusts

Irrevocable trusts, as their name clearly states, cannot (except under extraordinary circumstances) be altered once they have been created. They do, however, like revocable trusts, take your money legally out of your ownership, so no matter how sizable your estate, you will not be charged estate taxes. The funds in trusts can also be directly transferred to your beneficiary without the inconvenience of probate. In addition, irrevocable trusts offer the benefit of allowing you to stipulate when, and under what circumstances, your assets may be distributed to the beneficiary named in the trust. With an irrevocable trust, for example, you can decide that a certain amount will not be given to a particular beneficiary until he/she graduates college. There are a great many types of irrevocable trusts, each with a specific purpose. These include:

  • Gift trusts -- with which each beneficiary can receive $15,000 tax-free annually
  • Trusts for minors -- designed to meet particular expenses (e.g. educational or travel expenses) or to be dispersed only when the beneficiary reaches a certain age or completes a specific achievement (e.g. receives a Master’s degree)
  • Special needs trusts -- created to provide supplemental money for a loved one with special needs so that the individual can enjoy treats and extras without becoming ineligible for government benefits such as SSI or Medicaid
  • Marital trusts -- designed to protect assets from taxation and to make sure those assets go to those they are intended for; marital trusts are frequently used in second marriages to make certain that, after the second spouse inherits, any assets remaining after he/she dies will go to the testator’s children from his/her first marriage
  • Irrevocable life insurance trusts -- also known as ILITs, prevent life insurance proceeds from being counted as part of the estate for estate tax purposes
  • Spendthrift trusts -- are created to protect the beneficiaries who are known to be irresponsible with money, or to have an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or gambling, from their creditors and their own poor judgment

Contact Our Palm Springs Wills & Trusts Attorney

Wills and trusts are a complicated area of estate planning that this article has only begun to explain. If you are planning your estate, especially if you have substantial assets, it is invaluable to have a capable and dedicated Wills and Trusts attorney at your side. Chris Heritage is well-respected for his personal attention to his clients as well as for his well-honed legal skills. He is a good listener and will always make your needs and wishes his top priority. Give us a call or fill out a form on our website. Once you come in for a free consultation, you will see exactly what we mean.

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