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Estate Planning Preparation Guide

The primary purpose of proper estate planning is to preserve as much of your estate as possible for the benefit of your family, your heirs, or designated beneficiaries. To accomplish this, a thorough review of your estate is necessary to determine its value, the manner in which title is currently held, and the consequences of any survivorship rights. This is done by reviewing the original title papers and contracts, current account statements, and an inventory of your personal possessions.

If the estate was subject to Probate, then a Statutory Fee would be payable. The Attorney Statutory Probate Fee on a Two Million Dollars Estate would be $33,000.00. However, the Attorney Statutory Probate Fee can be avoided with proper planning!

The cost of leaving this earth and probating your estate (without a thoroughly constructed Trust) is ever increasing. The State Legislature continues to increase the Statutory Fees and Commissions paid to attorneys and personal representatives. The initial court filing fee is $450.00, and the publication fee is approximately $150.00. Presently, the Attorney Statutory Fee alone, on a $250,000.00 estate for example, is $8,000.00, and that does not account for the court filing fees and cost of publication - the publication fee, the Probate Referee's fee of 1/10th of one (.001%) percent of the estate value, and all those extraordinary fees, costs, and expenses that you'll be charged. Refer to our Fees & Commissions Page for the schedule for Attorney Statutory Fees, the Personal Representative's Commission, and our link for the court's schedule of filing fees. 

With proper planning much of this tremendous estate tax burden may be sheltered, preserving these valued assets, whether tangible or intangible properties, for your love ones and their future:

Step One: You have already taken your first step by obtaining this Estate Planning Preparation Guide.

Step Two: Gather your documents:

1) Real Property (homes, buildings and land): The Grant Deed or Court Order for each piece of real property and the most recent Property Tax bill to confirm the Assessor's Parcel Number. Additionally, documentation of any Leasehold Rights or other estates in land that you may own.

2) Personal Property: A complete itemization of all heirlooms and valuable personal property (jewelry, antiques, paintings, lithographs, porcelains, etc.).

3) Vehicles (automobiles, boats and other vehicles): The 'pink slip' or other title paper identifying the License Plate and Vehicle Identification Number.

4) Stocks and Bonds: Most people have their stock investments held by a brokerage firm and therefore receive a monthly Brokerage Statement. The most current statement is required. For those of you who possess the actual stock certificate and the actual Savings Bond, these certificates and bonds are required, as well.

5) Bank Account Holdings: The most current Bank Account Statement for all savings, checking, Certificates of Deposit, and Treasury Bill accounts, whether held solely in your name, with others, or for the benefit of others.

6) Business Relationships: The Partnership Agreement, whether general or limited, Fictitious Business Name certification, business location Rental/Lease Agreement, and all other legal papers concerning operations and ownership interests.

7) Inheritance Rights: If you have been granted a Power of Appointment under another's Last Will and Testament or Declaration of Trust, or are currently a beneficiary under another's Trust, a copy of the Will or Trust is necessary.

8) Other Intangible Property: Debts (Notes and Deeds of Trusts), Judgments, Judgment Liens, and other promises to pay; actual Patents, Copy Rights, and Royalty Agreements; and any other documentation of intangible property rights that you may own.

9) Life Insurance and Annuities: The actual policy with the coverage and designated beneficiary page and the current statement for the annuity.

10) Pensions: Employment By-Laws/Agreements and determination as to whether there is a survivor's benefit or right to assignment.

11) Tax Deferred Retirement Plans: The initiating documentation for each plan with the designated beneficiary page and the current Investment Retirement Account (IRA) statement.

12) Miscellaneous: Any pre-existing Wills and Codicils, Declarations of Trust and Amendments, or any Pre-need Agreements for funeral, burial, or cremation services.

Step Three: Call Noe Valley Law Offices at (415) 641-8687 and make an appointment. Meet with an attorney to review your estate and discuss your options. If you have any questions concerning any item above, feel free to call Noe Valley Law Offices. Advice as to whom to contact or the place to go for a document will be readily given. No question is too small nor unimportant.

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