Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning and Administration

At Berge & Berge, we frequently receive similar questions from new clients. To help you better determine your needs during estate planning and administration, we have collected the most common of these questions and their answer below. To learn more about how our skilled attorneys can help you, email our San Jose law office or call (408) 985-9918 to arrange an initial consultation.

Why is it important to have an estate plan?

An estate plan provides your heirs and beneficiaries with a legal roadmap for administering your estate. A well-designed plan can help you:

  • Ensure the correct people and organizations benefit from your estate.
  • Simplify the probate process.
  • Protect your assets from unnecessary taxes.
  • Set up a power of attorney and a living will in case you are incapacitated.
  • Reduce the burden of your passing or incapacitation on your loved ones.

What does a will do?

A will is the most fundamental part of an estate plan. It explains your last wishes, names your beneficiaries, and describes how you want your assets to be divided.

Wills are legally binding documents. During probate, whatever you state in your will is considered your last wishes and will be followed to the best of the court’s ability, even if you have changed your mind since you wrote it. Reviewing and updating your will regularly is essential to ensure it accurately reflects your current wishes.

What do trusts do?

A trust is a legal and financial arrangement that transfers property from one party to another. The property in the trust is generally considered the trustee’s responsibility until the terms of the trust are met. That is when it is transferred to the beneficiaries. Trusts may be used to transfer property after your death or incapacitation without the need to undergo the probate process.

Many types of trusts can be used in estate plans. To determine the best trusts for your estate, it is best to consult with a skilled trust attorney.

Why should I try to avoid probate?

Probate is the legal process of managing a deceased person’s estate. Assets must go through probate unless they are held in a trust. The probate process allows people to dispute your will and other documents and frequently takes weeks or months to be concluded. Minimizing the amount of time your estate spends in probate saves your beneficiaries time and money.

What is a guardianship or conservatorship?

Both conservatorships and guardianships grant one person the legal authority to make decisions for another. In California, conservatorships typically apply to adults who have lost their legal capacity for some reason, while guardianships are normally granted over minors whose parents no longer have the ability to care for them.

Contact Us for Your Consultation

These are just a few of the most important questions our clients bring to us. If you have questions or concerns about estate planning, administration, or setting up a guardianship or conservatorship for yourself or a loved one, please do not hesitate to reach out.

The skilled and compassionate Bay Area attorneys at Berge & Berge are available to answer your questions and provide experienced legal counsel in estate matters. Contact our San Jose firm online or call (408) 985-9918 to arrange your consultation.