Planning to Protect Your Family

Estate planning to:

  • Protect your wishes if you become incapacitated
  • Protect your family legacy upon your passing
Estate Planning with attorney Diana L. Martinez

Estate Planning

Advanced planning for you and everyone you love

Why do I need an estate plan?
Answer: You don’t. California has one for you. It’s expensive (can result in your assets being sold to pay for court and legal fees), can take months or years in probate court to administer, can tear families apart, and it may not be what you want. You only really need an estate plan if you want to make sure the people you care about most are cared for and can grieve your passing without having to focus on fighting for your hard-earned estate. You may also want a say in who/how your healthcare and financial matters are managed in the event you are incapacitated, even temporarily.

How do I get started?

Answer: A Strategic Planning Meeting will help you determine the focus of your estate plan:

  • Avoid probate
  • Protect my Children
  • Tax planning
  • Asset protection

How are online or form estate plans different from hiring an estate plan attorney? Online and form “fill in the blank” wills and trusts are not estate planning. This can have a serious impact on your beneficiaries because these “plans” don’t work. You are asked a few questions then the person/program selects the plan s/he or it thinks is right for you and fits you into a template. This is little more than a “search and replace” of your family’s name. A true estate planning lawyer takes the time to know you, your family, your concerns, your goals and educates you to find the best plan… for you. Whether the focus is to avoid the costs and delay probate (tying your assets up for months or years), maximize tax benefits and minimize or eliminate estate taxes, or protect your children and/or assets, your estate planning attorney will help you understand and select the best plan.

Advanced Estate Tax Planning

“Our new Constitution is now established and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin

You worked hard to care and provide for your family and loved ones. Along the way, you also paid taxes, lots and lots of taxes: property, income, and sales taxes, for example. When you die, the government will tax you one last time on whatever you have left. This is commonly referred to as estate tax, inheritance tax or death tax. Did you know:

Advanced Estate Planning with attorney Diana L. Martinez
  • The estate tax is separate from the income tax and is paid on the net value of all of your assets, including life insurance, real estate, retirement accounts, certain interests in trusts, and securities, owned at your death in excess of the exempt amount?
  • Those taxable gifts you made during your lifetime to reduce your own taxes and your estate at your death get added back to your estate value?
  • The current California tax rate is 40%… So is the Federal tax rate? This is always subject to change.

If you have a large estate, you should consider strategies available to minimize your exposure to the federal estate tax. Procrastination is expensive. Start your tax planning early to realize greater savings.

After Loss Guidance with attorney Diana L. Martinez

After Loss Guidance

Probate and Trust Administration

You’ve just lost a loved one. The grieving is profound. At the same time, you still have to manage your life: finances, family, work, etc. And now, you also need to be aware of required notices and deadlines to administer your loved one’s estate.

If you, or the deceased loved one, either had no will or only had a will, you may still need the court’s involvement. This is called Probate.

  • Fees are statutory (set by law) and based on the gross value of the estate. Debts on assets, like a mortgage, do not get deducted.
  • Current rates are approximately 4%-8%. While this may sound small, based on the structure of the fees under the probate code (§10810), the fees and any outstanding debts on your assets can eat into more than half of your estate, leaving your heirs with no choice but to sell your assets rather than keep them in the family.
  • There are important legal notifications and administrative deadlines that must be met.
  • Certain tax filings (also time-sensitive) can increase exemption benefits for surviving spouses.

In California, if your estate is valued at $150,000 or more, or includes real property valued at over $50,000, it will likely have to go through probate unless there is a living trust. Call now to get your estate plan in order.

Protecting your Children

For families with young children, your estate plan should include a structure that provides for the care and wellbeing of your children. Our focus at the Law & Mediation Offices of Diana L. Martinez is always family first. Our plans provide that, upon your death:

  • Funds and assets are managed by the person you select, for the benefit of your children; Absent your specific instructions by and through your will and trust, when your child turns 18, s/he gets a check for whatever assets are left;
  • Funds and assets are managed by the person you select, for the benefit of your children; Absent your specific instructions by and through your will and trust, when your child turns 18, s/he gets a check for whatever assets are left;
Protecting Your Children Estate Planning with attorney Diana L. Martinez

Our estate plans include a childcare plan for families with young children. You should take advantage of this now. Don’t wait until after that romantic getaway with your spouse, leaving the kids with grandma.

Just Married Estate Planning with attorney Diana L. Martinez

Just Married Planning

Planning for a wedding is often a herculean venture. The caterers, the bridal parties, the venue, the seating, and the list goes on and on. The last thing people think about, if at all, is estate planning. There are serious implications, both legal and practical real-life, that require open and honest discussions and planning. Whether it is your first or second marriage, whether you are starting from scratch or have significant assets before marriage, a pre-nuptial agreement (or post-nuptial if the “I dos” have already taken place) and estate planning can be a critical piece to a long and happy marriage.

Your Strategic Planning Meeting is a proactive approach to getting your legal and financial house in order. Some benefits include:

  • Providing for children from a prior relationship;
  • Clear understanding of what will remain separate property;
  • Possible asset protection that can give both spouses peace of mind.

The reality is that, despite best intentions and efforts, about half of all marriages in California end in divorce; this percentage increases for second and third marriages. Premarital/post-nuptial and estate planning are proactive tools to plan for “success” in the future, whether that turns out to be a long happy marriage or an efficient and amicable divorce. The last thing you want should the marriage not work out is your soon-to-be ex keeping all of your assets and leaving your children only with memories.

At the Law & Mediation Offices of Diana L. Martinez, our experience in divorce cases gives you an advantage in creating a successful estate planning for first and second marriages, and for blended families, to ensure that your wishes are carried out and that your children and other loved ones are protected.

Schedule My First Session

Schedule your free 15 minute introduction call or your first planning meeting.

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