Hsiao Law Estate Planning and Asset Protection
Search
Close this search box.

Estate Planning & Asset Protection

Frequently Asked Questions about Estate Planning

Your Personal Family Lawyer for Life

Estate planning can often seem overwhelming and confusing. To add some clarity to the process, our attorneys have compiled a list of our FAQs about estate planning in the space below. If you have further inquiries, do not hesitate to contact our office, and we will happily answer your questions.

Probate is the court and process that looks after people who cannot make their own personal, health care and financial decisions. These people fall into three general categories: Minor Children (under age 18 in most states); Incapacitated Adults; and People who have died without legal arrangements to avoid probate. Probate proceedings can be expensive and time-consuming. Additionally, the court proceeding and associated documents are all a matter of public record. Many people choose to avoid probate in order to save money, spare their heirs a legal hassle, and keep their personal affairs private.

This is the most common form of asset ownership between spouses. Joint tenancy (or TBE) has the advantage of avoiding probate at the death of the first spouse. However, the surviving spouse should not add the names of other relatives to their assets. Doing so may subject their assets to loss through the debts, bankruptcies, divorces and/or lawsuits of any additional joint tenants. Joint tenancy planning also may result in unnecessary death taxes on the estate of a married couple.

The document a person signs to provide for the orderly disposition of assets after death. Wills do not avoid probate. Wills have no legal authority until the willmaker dies and the original will is delivered to the Probate Court. Still, everyone with minor children needs a will. It is the only way to appoint the new “parent” of an orphaned child. Special testamentary trust provisions in a will can provide for the management and distribution of assets for your heirs. Additionally, assets can be arranged and coordinated with provisions of the testamentary trusts to avoid death taxes.

Sometimes called an Advance Medical Directive, a living will allows you to state your wishes in advance regarding what types of medical life support measures you prefer to have, or have withheld/withdrawn if you are in a terminal condition (without reasonable hope of recovery) and cannot express your wishes yourself. Oftentimes a living will is executed along with a Durable Power of Attorney for Health care, which gives someone legal authority to make your health care decisions when you are unable to do so yourself.

If you die without even a Will (intestate), the legislature of your state has already determined who will inherit your assets and when they will inherit them. You may not agree with their plan, but roughly 70 percent of Americans currently use it.

You may avoid probate on the transfer of some assets at your death through the use of beneficiary designations. Laws regarding what assets may be transferred without probate (non-probate transfer laws) vary from state to state. Some common examples include life insurance death benefits and bank accounts.

These allow you to appoint someone you know and trust to make your personal health care and financial decisions even when you cannot. If you are incapacitated without these legal documents, then you and your family will be involved in a probate proceeding known as a guardianship and conservatorship. This is the court proceeding where a judge determines who should make these decisions for you under the ongoing supervision of the court.

This is an agreement with three parties: the Trust-makers, the Trustees (or Trust Managers), and the Trust Beneficiaries. For example, a husband and wife may name themselves all three parties to create their trust, manage all the assets transferred to the trust, and have full use and enjoyment of all the trust assets as beneficiaries. Further “back-up” managers can step in under the terms of the trust to manage the assets should the couple become incapacitated or die. Special provisions in the trust also control the management and distribution of assets to heirs in the event of the trustmaker’s death. With proper planning, the couple also can avoid or eliminate death taxes on their estate. The Revocable Living Trust may allow them to accomplish all this outside of any court proceeding.

Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, married or single, if you own titled assets such as a house and want your loved ones to avoid court interference at your death or incapacity, consider a revocable living trust. A trust allows you to bring all of your assets together under one plan.

Ready To Establish a Powerful and Lasting Legacy?

The first step to establishing a lasting legacy is finding an available time to meet with Hsial Law and booking a call

Benefits of Working With Our Firm

  • Personalized Legal Guidance: Clients receive tailored legal advice that aligns with their unique family dynamics, financial situations, and future goals.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that all legal documents are prepared correctly and reflect their wishes provides immense mental relief.
  • Simplification of Complex Processes: The firm helps demystify the legal jargon and complexities of estate planning, making the process straightforward and accessible.
  • Future Security: Clients ensure that their family’s future is secure, with measures in place for asset protection, guardianship for minors, and directives for healthcare.
  • Conflict Reduction: By clearly outlining their wishes, clients minimize the potential for family disputes over assets and responsibilities after their passing.

Informative Estate Planning & Elder Law Resources

Informative Resource

Kids Protection Planning Guide

Informative Resource

Wear Clean Underwear

Informative Resource

6 Mistakes Most Families Make When Choosing an Estate Planning Attorney

Have Kids at Home?

Then You Need to Name Legal Guardians. Do It Here for Free.

If you have children, you likely worry about what would happen to them if something happens to you.

At the very least, you want to name legal guardians to care for them for the long-term. And, it needs to be done legally. So, we’ve created a website to make it easy and you.  You can name guardians for your kids for free.

Once you name guardians for your kids, you will rest easy at night knowing for sure…What would happen to your kids if something were to happen to you?

Stay Informed and Updated