A Skilled Estate Planning Attorney in Sacramento

One of the greatest things you can do to provide peace of mind for your family is to create an estate plan. Proactive planning can not only minimize tax liability, but it can also eliminate stress and misunderstandings for family members at a difficult time. An experienced estate planning attorney in Sacramento can guide you through the planning process and create a plan that is customized to your unique needs.

Some people think you have to be wealthy to benefit from an estate plan, but nothing could be further from the truth. Whether your estate is modest or in excess of $1 million, building an estate plan can ensure the orderly and swift distribution of your assets upon passing away. A skilled estate planning attorney in Sacramento can also find ways to minimize capital gains taxes and other tax liability as part of your plan.

Making a decision to be in control of your finances is a great stress reliever. At Hackard Law, we help families with multimillion-dollar estates — as well as those just beginning to accumulate assets — plan for the future and protect their loved ones. To learn more about how our trust attorneys can help you create a customized plan, contact Hackard Law. We would be happy to answer your questions. Our estate planning attorney in Sacramento has decades of experience helping families create plans that ensure the smooth distribution of assets. For a free initial consultation, call us at 916-313-3030.

How Do I Choose the Best Estate Planning Attorney?

Choosing an estate planning attorney in Sacramento may be one of the most important decisions you make. All attorneys are not created equal. Some estate planning attorneys are simply more experienced and skilled than others.

Our firm has assisted individuals and families in Sacramento and throughout California — especially Los Angeles and Santa Clara — with estate planning needs since 1983. Founding attorney Michael A. Hackard has represented members of the Forbes 400, as well as professional athletes and a number of families with complex asset protection issues. Michael is AV Preeminent* peer-review rated by Martindale-Hubbell, a testament demonstrating that his peers rank him at the highest level of professional excellence.

A Sacramento Estate Planning Attorney Can Make an Existing Plan Better

Even if you already have a plan in place, a Sacramento estate planning attorney can give it a professional review and suggest ways to make it more effective. Estate plans are living documents that should be reviewed and updated at least once a year. Sometimes that means just giving it a check of approval, and other times it means rewriting major sections of the plan. Children grow up, people get married, and investments evolve and grow. You want to make sure your estate plan is current and up to date.

If you already have an estate plan in place, are you certain that it serves your current needs? We work with a number of clients who recognize that their life situation has changed dramatically since they originally created the estate plan, and they need to address new challenges in real time. These may include deaths in the family, marriage, divorce, remarriage, business succession concerns or any number of issues. At Hackard Law, a Sacramento estate planning attorney would be glad to review your existing plan and help you update it. Call us at 916-313-3030.

A Sacramento Estate Planning Lawyer Understands That It’s Your Wealth, Your Decisions

Our estate planning process begins by carefully listening to your concerns and understanding your objectives. Our lawyers will take the time to explain your legal options and what each estate planning tool achieves. We can assist you with the full spectrum of estate planning needs, including:

  • Wills – The foundation of any estate plan and a starting point for providing instructions on how you wish to distribute your assets after you die
  • Trusts – Can help you avoid probate and provide additional assurance that someone will manage your assets according to your wishes in the event you can no longer make those decisions
  • Advance Healthcare Directives – Name someone to handle decisions regarding medical treatment and your wishes regarding life-sustaining efforts if you become incapacitated
  • Durable Powers of Attorney – Name someone to handle financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so
  • Business Succession Planning – Creates a viable plan for the continuation of a family business in the event of the retirement or death of the current leader by establishing leadership roles and other key decisions
  • Asset Protection – Involves efforts to protect personal assets for future generations, often by separating personal assets from business liabilities

Why Is an Estate Planning Attorney in Sacramento So Important?

An estate planning attorney in Sacramento can eliminate a lot of future headaches. In the absence of a will, trust, or some other testamentary arrangement (legal talk for a legally binding estate plan, including wills and trusts), it is likely that you will be deemed to have died “intestate.” This means you died with no will or other document directing how to distribute your assets. In the absence of such a document, the court will distribute your assets based on California probate law. Probate is complicated and expensive because the state rarely is frugal with other people’s money. Also, the process will take place with absolutely no regard for how you might have wanted your assets distributed.

You had your chance to write a will and you blew it, according to state lawmakers. So the state will do the distributing for you according to its statute. This means your assets will be doled out according to people’s relationship to you — such as a spouse, child and other relatives. While the distribution hierarchy makes some sense, it might not be — and often is quite different from – the way you would have preferred to distribute your assets. Estate planning reasserts your control over the process. To learn more about how Hackard Law can help, call us at 916-313-3030.

A Will Is Often Not Enough – A Comprehensive Estate Plan Is Essential

The simplest and most common document in an estate plan is a will. At its most basic level, a will is a document that states that this asset will go to this person and that asset will go to that person. Wills also can make arrangements for the custody and care of any minor children and pets, as well as articulating your desires about charitable contributions.

A will can be set up in any number of ways, using specific individual bequests or distribution by percentages. For example, you can leave each of your four children one quarter of your total estate after payment of debts and taxes. No matter what type of will you set up, your beneficiaries will have to go through probate, because a court proceeding oversees the distribution of assets according to the terms of the will. Depending on the complexity of the estate, this can get complicated, drawn-out and expensive.

What Can a Complete Estate Plan Do?

The goals of estate planning generally include making sure the people you want to get your assets are the people who actually get those assets. Often, estate planning is designed to minimize probate court involvement and thus minimize expense. This kind of estate planning, designed to avoid probate, seeks to put as many assets as possible under some form of joint ownership so that, upon death, the asset passes to the joint owner. This can minimize estate and inheritance tax liability.

Joint ownership can apply to many kinds of property, including bank accounts, insurance proceeds, retirement accounts, various kinds of financial investments, real estate, and many other assets. With joint ownership of an asset, the surviving account holder gets the account upon your death, with no probate involvement.

For those assets not subject to joint ownership — through choice or otherwise — estate planning kicks in. Estate planning can — and in many cases, should — cover medical, financial, business, and tax planning in addition to asset distribution. Estate planning lets you decide:

  • Who will receive what assets after your death
  • Who and how your assets will be managed if you become incapacitated during your lifetime and are unable to manage your assets yourself
  • Whether there are circumstances when your assets should be distributed while you are still alive, what those circumstances are, how the assets should be distributed, and by whom the distribution should be managed
  • Who will make your personal healthcare decisions should you become unable to make those decisions yourself, and what principals, guidelines, or specific instructions will be in place to govern those decisions.

What Is the Process for Creating an Estate Plan?

Effective estate planning requires just that — planning. To achieve what you want through estate planning, you have to develop a roadmap of what you have, where it is, and where you want to go with it all. Throw in contingency plans for unexpected developments — such as your being alive but unable to manage your business or medical affairs — and estate planning can get complicated in a hurry. To deal with that, an estate planning attorney in Sacramento can guide you in developing a full picture of where you want to go. Some of the questions we’ll ask include:

  • What assets do you have, what are they worth, and who do you want to receive those assets?
  • When do you want that asset distribution to happen?
  • If you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions during your lifetime, who do you want to manage those assets? What instructions should they be given?
  • Who should make healthcare decisions if you become incapacitated, and what guidelines or instructions should they follow?
  • What do you want regarding care of your minor children if you are incapacitated? What about after you die?

Most of these issues can be dealt with through the will. Others will require supplementary documents such as an advance healthcare directive or a living trust.

Living Trusts

A living trust leaves you in control of your assets while you are still living but provides for distribution to named beneficiaries after your death. In many ways, a living trust is a partial substitute for a will. You put your assets into the living trust, but the trust is administered for your benefit while you are alive. The assets pass to your beneficiaries upon your death. Most often, you are the trustee who administers the living trust while you are alive. A living trust …

  • Grants the trustee the legal power to manage the assets held in the trust, requiring the trustee to manage trust assets for your benefit while you are alive
  • Names the beneficiaries who will receive your trust’s assets upon your death
  • Provides guidelines and instructions for the management of trust assets by the trustee.

Whether a living trust or other estate-management plans are right for you is a complicated decision. An estate planning attorney in Sacramento can help you sort your way through all of these issues in a professional and efficient manner.

Meeting Us Is the First Step Toward a Secure Future

An estate planning attorney in Sacramento is your first step in creating a plan that will provide your family peace of mind. The death of a family member is a difficult experience, and an estate plan can alleviate legal and financial stress and provide family members with the opportunity to grieve. An estate plan can be a huge act of love.

At Hackard Law, we welcome the opportunity to review your estate planning needs during a free consultation. Email us to schedule a meeting or call us at 916-313-3030. We are here to help your family achieve a fruitful and secure future.

AV Preeminent is a certification mark of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer-review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell ratings fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

Elder Financial Abuse Book

Michael Hackard’s book “The Wolf at the Door: Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse” presents both overview and in-depth analysis of elder financial crimes.

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