According to the latest statistics, there were 2,059 total filings related to estates, trusts, and other probates in the city of San Diego in California. An estate refers to the net worth of everything belonging to an individual or organization. Upon a person’s death, the property is divided or bequeathed to someone mentioned in the will. But even during their lifetime, there are several documents, laws, taxes, and other things that need attention. Those can seem pretty intimidating, but not when you have an estate planning attorney San Diego to help you out. Who is an estate attorney, and what questions do you need to ask while hiring them? 

Who is an estate attorney?

Estate law is concerned with the way a person’s property or estate is managed. An estate attorney is someone who specializes in it. They can help you draft various documents like wills, file income tax returns, take care of life insurance, and advise a trustee on their legal obligations. You can also seek their help to resolve any disputes with beneficiaries or decide the best way to divide the estate assets. Estate lawyers can also inform you about the various types of trusts and the most suitable type for you. Managing an estate becomes easy, smooth, and convenient with the help of your lawyer.

How can your lawyer help you?

Avoiding “probate” 

Probate refers to a process in which a will is reviewed by the court to determine its authenticity. If the deceased person hasn’t chosen an heir, the law ensures that the property is transferred to the rightful beneficiaries. The court designates an executor to supervise the entire process, including collecting the assets to settle liabilities. While that may sound pretty straightforward, the whole process is a lengthy one. In San Diego, California, it takes around 12 to 18 months for probate. Some cases could also take up to two years. Your lawyer will ensure that you leave your assets to beneficiaries of your choice, establish a trust, have joint ownership, or employ other means to avoid the unnecessary probate process.

Help you manage estate taxes

California and San Diego do not have an estate tax. However, the federal estate tax becomes applicable for properties worth 11.7 million USD $ and above. Estate with more value will have to pay a tax rate of almost 40%. Your lawyer will be able to tell you if you qualify for the federal tax. If you do, they will assist you with the entire process.

Ensure that your will is valid and binding

Any will should be legal and binding in the court of law. Laws regarding the validity of a will are mentioned in the California Probate Code. It states that the testament should be in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses. Each witness must watch the testator sign the will in his presence and should sign it themselves in the testator’s presence. Your attorney will see that the “will” is free from errors, contains the proper language, incorporates all your wishes, and ensures that it conforms to all the legal requirements.

It is never too late to hire an estate planning attorney in San Diego and ensure that all your estate-related affairs are managed professionally. As your estate is a precious asset, it should get all the proper attention and care it deserves, both during and after your lifetime.