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Craig Parker is the managing attorney for Parker Law Office and is admitted in all California State Courts and the U.S. District Court (Eastern District of California).

Craig is a member of the American Bar Association, Sacramento County Bar Association, and Wiley Manual Bar Association.



 What is estate planning?

The process of establishing your desires, in writing, so your loved ones will know how your assets will be handled and distributed upon death or incapacity. This includes your selection of guardian if you have minor children when you die. Distribution of assets may include family, friends, pets, charitable organizations or anyone you desire. The plan should include naming someone who will handle making health care decisions for you if you are unable including end of life decisions. Selecting someone to handle your financial affairs during temporary or extended incapacity shall also be included in your plan.

The estate planning process should incorporate tax planning, if your estate is large enough.

 Do I need to create an estate plan?

Yes. Your estate plan will have your wishes on how you assets will be handled upon death. This will occur through a Will and/or a Trust that will explain your intent on what you wish to happen with you assets upon death or incapacity. Who you want to make health and financial decisions for you in the event of incapacity is critical to assure your affairs are handled properly and with your desires.

 What is a will?

A testamentary instrument that has your after death wishes explained and how you wish to have your assets distributed to your beneficiaries or charities. It will include your choice for an executor (caretaker of your estate assets) and guardian if necessary.

 If I do not have a will won't my heirs still receive my estate assets due to family relationships?

Yes. The state of California will handle your estate through the probate process in this state. Distributions will be handled based on the current laws of the state which may not match how you wish to have your assets distributed. This is called intestate succession. If your estate goes through probate information regarding your estate will be available to the public and your familyís privacy is not protected.

 What is probate?

Probate is a court supervised process to handle distribution from a decedentís estate to their beneficiaries. This process is necessary if the person dies with a will in place (testate) or without a will (intestate). Banks, brokerage firms, and other businesses that manage assets usually will not release estate funds to the heirs without the proper court filings to avoid the potential for any fraudulent activity.

 What is a Trust?

A legal document used primarily as a probate avoidance instrument when you die. If you have a trust in place your estate is handled by your selected trustee without public disclosure and the need to file for probate. Depending on your needs a trust may also implement any necessary tax planning needed for your estate. An individual or couple will transfer their assets into the trust while maintaining control of their assets as if the assets were still in their name directly.

 What is a Power of Attorney?

A legal document that designates someone you trust to handle your personal financial affairs if you should become incapacitated and unable to manage your affairs. This would include items such as your real and personal property, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, insurance, day to day financial needs until you have the capacity to manage your personal affairs again. This document can be made effective immediately or only upon a determination of incapacity.

 What is an Advanced Health Care Directive?

A legal document that designates someone you trust to make medical decisions for you including making end of life decisions if necessary. Having this document will ensure that medical professionals handle your health needs in a manner you would desire when you are unable to make your wishes known directly.

 How do I select the right executor or trustee?

This is a very personal choice. You should select someone you trust and will execute your plan as you have written. Usually a close family member such as your spouse, adult child, grandchild or sibling will be selected. Some individuals without close family ties will select a close friend. Another option is to use a professional trustee to be responsible for implementing your estate plan. Professional trustees will charge a fee, but will not be subject to the emotional pleas from beneficiaries as a close family member might be.

 Who will care for my minor children?

This is an important and personal decision for those with young children who will need a permanent guardian until they reach adulthood. Many will select close family members who would care for the children in a manner that would be similar to how you would raise your children. The selection of a temporary guardian is just as important if you die at the same time as your spouse or partner, your spouse or partner cannot be located in a short period of time, or you are single. If a responsible adult cannot be found the authorities must take care of your children until a guardian can be located. This means your child(ren) could be placed in foster care until the proper home can be located.

 I am getting married, how to I protect my children? My new spouse?

Having a blended family can create interesting challenges for the proper management of your estate and care of your children if you die without the proper plan. Without an estate plan, your separate assets and community assets may be distributed in a manner that is not conducive to your new family relationship. This includes the potential for your surviving spouse losing the home you shared due to the need to distribute the assets of the estate to your beneficiaries.

 We have just registered our domestic parternship. Isn't that enough protection for my family?

California has implemented laws that allow for the protection of a domestic partner just the same as if the couple were married. However, this is not the case in all states or at a federal level. Additionally, everyone does not agree with the advent of domestic partnerships and will not always honor the domestic partnership when the time is critical. It is imperative that domestic partners have detailed information in their estate plan which includes who is to handle their health care and end of life decisions. This also extends to how partners want their personal affairs managed or taken care of in the event of temporary or permanent incapacity.

The content on this website is for informational purposes only.†This information is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.†This site is not intended to be a solicitation for legal services.



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Parker Law Office - 777 Campus Commons Road, Suite 200, PMB 20025 - Sacramento, CA 95825 - 916.585.9438 - Fax 866.377.9679