International Estate Planning

Estate planning is planning for the future. It is a way for you to make decisions about yourself and your assets instead of leaving those decisions to someone else. A proper estate plan should ensure that (1) you make your own decisions concerning your future; (2) you make the decision as to how your property is to be distributed and (3) you minimize or eliminate estate taxes, court interference and costs and expenses of probate. A proper estate plan will:

  • Ensure that you are the one who will provide instructions for your care in the event you become incapacitated or disabled;
  • Ensure that you provide security and protection for your loved ones;
  • Enable you to control and manage your assets during your lifetime;
  • Enable you to provide explicit instructions as to how your assets are to be utilized and distributed after your death;
  • Enable you to maintain your financial affairs private and confidential after your death;
  • Enable you to avoid probate and its associated costs;
  • Enable you to take advantage of minimizing any estate tax liability that you may have;
  • Become effective even if you move to or own property in another state.

Many people are mistaken that estate planning is only applicable to wealthy individuals. If you do not properly plan your estate, you will be allowing future decisions to be made your behalf by a court nominated individual if you become incapacitated or disabled. This would include health care decisions and decisions concerning the management of your assets. Moreover, California law will determine how and to whom your property and assets will be distributed. This process is known as “intestate succession”. These are all decisions that should and easily could be made by you.

A proper estate plan will allow you to maintain the affairs and settlement of your estate privately and confidentially. The death of a loved one leaves family grieving and distressed. Family should not have to undergo the added burden of having to go through probate. Probate will diminish your estate and tie your assets up. Your loved ones will have the misfortune of seeing a lifetime of accumulated assets diminished by the costs and expenses of probate.

For individuals with larger estates, proper estate planning also allows for the minimization of estate tax liability and wealth preservation. This can be accomplished by an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney knowledgeable about estate taxes.

By having a properly drafted estate plan, you should be able to maintain control of your assets, plan for the possibility of your own disability, determine whom you want to receive your assets, how you want them to receive it and when, avoid the agonizing experience of probate together with the associated costs, determine who you want to manage your assets and make important health care decisions on your behalf, settle and distribute your assets privately, efficiently and quickly and minimize your estate tax liability. The relevant cost of having an estate plan is small when compared to the alternative.