Tuesday, December 22, 2015

An Estate Planning Attorney for Cinderella

You might be familiar with the story of Cinderella, but we often forget the backstory. It starts with disaster, specifically, an estate planning disaster in a world that does not worry about the estate tax or probate, or even lawyers. What a magical place, indeed! 

Even though Cinderella ended up getting her happily ever after, thanks to her fairy godmother and the marriage to her prince, the injustice she endured in the process could have been easily avoided with a simple estate plan. We live in the real world and must prepare for the worst because fairy godmothers and princes are few and far between.  

Finding an Attorney to Create your Estate Plan

Fairy tales may end well because of magical fairies and rodents, but like Cinderella, they start with avoidable tragedy common to the human experience. A good estate-planning attorney will counsel a family to avoid what can be avoided.

Failing to make a plan guarantees a visit with the courts, and invites litigation.  Litigation attorneys in the trust and estates world are not fairy godmothers. They may fight injustice, but unlike those fictional do-gooders, litigation attorneys demand payment. Beyond expenses, litigation is burdensome in many other ways. There is no guarantee that estate planning will eliminate litigation, but we can certainly plan and reduce the risk of it. 

Why Estate Planning is Crucial for Blended Families

Cinderella’s mother died when she was a child and her father decided to remarry a woman with two girls about the age of Cinderella. The father being in the “honeymoon stage” thinks this blended family is the perfect situation for him and Cinderella. A few scenes later, he dies, leaving the estate to his widow (the normal thing to happen in the real world)- the infamous Wicked Stepmother. The stepmother takes control of the estate for the benefit of herself and her two daughters and forces Cinderella to become a servant in what should have been her own home! Cinderella is so degraded that she’s forced to make friends with birds and rodents. 

Cinderella’s Dad Could Have Found a Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorney

In the non-Disney world, wicked stepmothers are everywhere. We call them bankruptcy trustees, judgment creditors and yes, actual wicked stepmothers. The stories of modern-day Cinderella’s are remade and retold every day throughout the country and are seen in real life situations. 

The parents of Cinderella were not bad people in life; they just failed to properly plan. They failed to consider for the sake of their daughter creditor protection, remarriage protection, guardianship, and special needs. If you have children and do not have a proper plan in place, you will be taking a huge gamble on their well being. 

If Cinderella’s father had created a plan a trustee, someone would have protected Cinderella. She would have received money for health, education, and other supports she needed until she grew old enough to take manage the trust herself. Cinderella’s dad could have included provisions to guard how the trust was spent; it could have limited how much money she could receive at certain ages, or limit her ability to use the money for housing needs, investment purposes, or school expenses. You can be creative with estate planning to make sure to benefit your children. 

5 Steps You Need to Consider for your Estate Plan

1)    Nominate a Legal Guardian
2)    Decide if you want the Legal Guardian to have instant access to the trust fund or to appoint a separate Trustee to manage the money
3)    Use a California licensed attorney
4)    Give a copies to those you love and trust
5)    Revisit your flan every couple years to make sure your plan is up-to-date

Finding Your Perfect Estate Planning Attorney

Planning out your finances is something you automatically do but an estate plan in place should be at the top of your list, unfortunately most people make the mistake of not getting to it at all. An estate plan may seem like a morbid thought, or the last thing on your mind, but without a proper plan in place something simple could become a nightmare.

The number one worst mistake you can make is not having any estate plan at all like in the case of Cinderella. If you do not have an estate plan, California law has one for you. The problem is that it may not work the way you would have wanted. 

The goal of an estate plan is to bring comfort to yourself and you loved ones and ensure that your assets are distributed to their beneficiaries properly with the least delay and without incurring unnecessary legal fees, costs or taxes. 

Let's give you and your family that happily ever after!


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