Estate Planning Attorneys San Diego

Estate planning laws have had to change dramatically over the years. At one time, estate planning meant hiring an attorney and having a will that would go through probate and, if a person was married, titling property jointly with a spouse. It conjured up visions of death and of wealthy families gathered in attorneys’ wood-paneled offices listening to wills being read. It suggested that the wealthy should plan so that they could avoid estate taxes. Changes nationally and in California laws, and the growth of those aged 65+ in San Diego, all contributed to changing views of finance, lifestyle, privacy, nontraditional families, and longevity of life have made estate planning far more interesting and, frankly, more compelling for a larger group of people than ever before.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, estate planning attorneys debated wills and probate versus living trust planning. That argument has been settled. Most Americans now recognize that living trust–centered estate planning is more suited for the modern, mobile society in which we now live.  For these and many other reasons, estate planning no longer involves an attorney just doing tax planning only for the wealthy. Estate planning attorneys plan financial, retirement, business succession, charitable, medical, disability, legacy, and gift planning:

  • Planning to maintain control: Whether we consciously think about it or not, we all want to control our financial and personal affairs while we are mentally and physically capable of doing so. Most of us have had the experience of watching parents or grandparents mentally decline while determined not to relinquish decision-making control over their financial and personal affairs. Many of us have seen the results of individuals and families thrown into the position of having to make crucial decisions for their loved ones without the proper authorization or understanding of what their loved ones want done. With proper planning, you can control your financial and personal affairs while you are well and competent and can leave instructions for how your affairs should be managed—in essence, still maintaining control—if you become physically or mentally disabled.
  • Planning for loved ones: The options available for “how and when” to give what you own to your friends, family, loved ones, and charity are limited only by your goals and your imagination. That statement may not sound logical, but we believe it to be factual based on our experience. You have tremendous opportunities to ensure that your heirs receive your property in a manner that best fits their needs and your goals. You have the ability to plan for your spouse, to create a legacy for future generations of your family and for your community, to remember friends, and to make a difference.
  • Retirement planning: According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the average life expectancy in the United States is a little more than 77 years. As medical science improves, that figure will increase. According to a survey by Employee Benefit Research Institute, the average retirement account balance (net of loans) for participant-directed plans at the end of 2001 was a scant $43,215. For most of us, that’s not nearly enough retirement savings, and none of us wants to outlive our money. There is no more important reason to plan for retirement than that profound concept. It is critical that you design and implement a retirement plan as soon as possible so that you have sufficient time to accumulate the resources you need to retire comfortably.
  • Planning for seniors: Government studies further indicate that if we live to age 65, we are likely to live to age 83, and that people today aged 65 or older face a 40 percent lifetime risk of entering a nursing home. The projections worsen: We will live longer, and as we do, our risk of entering a nursing home will go up. It is critical for all of us who want to retain our privacy, dignity, and control to understand the issues of medical care and long-term-care costs and our options to plan for them.

Business planning: Some studies indicate that only about 50 percent of all family-owned businesses last more than one generation and that very few last more than two generations. Estate tax plays a role in these losses, but failing to plan for the succession of the business plays an equally important role. In our experience, saving estate taxes is usually the aftereffect of planning for other goals, those being primarily a happy and comfortable retirement and a successful transition of the business to co-owners, family, or key employees in order to support the retirement.

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