The Importance of Lifetime Estate Planning

Failure to Plan Can Have Devastating Results

Estate Planning is a valuable process that can benefit nearly everyone during their lives, their children and future generations.   Unfortunately, many people learn this far too late to make a useful difference.  Designing and creating a thoughtful, well-structured estate plan will allow you to have peace of mind and confidently say,

“I will be able to control my property while I’m alive; take care of myself and my

loved ones if I become disabled; and give what I have, to whom I want, the

way I want, and when I want.  Furthermore, if I can, I want to save every

last tax dollar, professional fee, and court cost legally possible.”

To best appreciate the value of lifetime trust planning, let’s start with the premise of “no planning at all” and see what happens.

When incapacity strikes, whether by illness or disability, a lack of planning can have devastating results.  If there is no single individual vested with legal authority to make decisions regarding health and finances, there will be a control vacuum until a court-ordered guardianship or conservatorship is established.  These court proceedings are expensive, time consuming, and difficult on the family.  And there’s a good chance that the court may not name the person you’d want to care for you and make important health and financial decisions.

What happens when a person dies without planning for their assets?  Probate!  And all the fun that going to court brings with it.  California probate laws attempt to fill the void of no planning.  But because every person and family are unique, the general rule of probate applies to no one in particular.  This leaves your property, investments, and assets in a void without you having any say or control.  Oh, and probate is quite public.  That’s why we know so much about what was left behind and not well-planned for by Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston, to name just a few.

Even having a Will may not do much good, as a Last Will is a pure “death instrument” (and not a very good one, either).  A Will won’t help while you’re alive but unable to handle your own affairs.  A Will does not control disposition of all of the deceased’s property.  And a Will can’t provide protections for your children or other descendants.  It doesn’t provide for disability, doesn’t protect assets, may result in unnecessary taxes, and certainly won’t avoid a lengthy and costly probate.  This unpleasantness often leads to years of family fighting.

Think of probate like this: “A lawsuit that you file against yourself, paid for with your own assets, for the purpose of giving your property away and satisfying your creditors and disgruntled heirs.”  One question – why would anyone do this?

Proper estate planning is more than a transaction.  It’s a process that involves not just you, but one that will influence many generations to come.

A good estate planning attorney will educate, design, and implement a unique plan and counsel clients regarding:

(a)   Lifetime control over financial and health care decision making

(b)   Planning for the cost-effective and expedient transfer of wealth at death

(c)    Family maintenance and protection planning

(d)   Business succession planning

(e)   Charitable planning

(f)     Estate and gift tax planning

(g)   Legacy planning

Next time, we’ll start to talk about how to achieve these worthwhile goals.


To begin the process of bringing your unique plan to life, you are invited to schedule a consultation by calling 661-621-3661; emailing; or visiting

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