Summary

The stories you've read illustrate just a few of the problems that arise when you don't have an estate plan or don't have a proper plan in place. The tables below summarize the pros and cons of the various options available. 

No Plan

When you don't have a plan in place, you are subject to the default rules of California law. This means that your loved ones will need court approval for everything. 

Pros

  • Free

Cons

  • Your children could end up in foster care
  • A judge will decide who raises your children
  • Your assets will have to pass through probate before they are distributed to your loved ones. Probate is expensive (about 5-7% of your estate) and takes a long time (12-18 months in California).
  • Your affairs will be settled in public
  • California law will decide who gets what
  • Your children will receive a lump-sum check at 18 with no restrictions on how the money is spent
  • Inheritances are at risk from bankruptcy, divorce, lawsuits, and creditors 

Conclusion:

Not having a plan is the cheapest option. But it will cause your family the most trouble on the back end. Not having a plan in place isn't a good option for families with children or with assets over $150,000. 

Cheap Online Documents

There are several low-cost online options for estate-planning documents.

Pros

  • Low cost (anywhere from $300 to $800 depending on the provider and options chosen)
  • Plans will work if documents are properly executed and any required assets transfers are correctly completed.  

Cons

  • Based on a one-size-fits-all template
  • Few, or no, options for customization or advanced planning techniques (e.g., asset-protection trusts)
  • No education about estate-planning basics
  • No legal advice provided, which means that questions about your particular situation can't be answered
  • Possibility that your plan fails because of mistakes made by you (e.g., improperly executing a document or failing to properly transfer title of your assets to your living trust)
  • Poor customer service

Conclusion:

Using an online provider for estate planning is best for those with the willingness to educate themselves about estate planning and the time and confidence to properly execute their plan documents and to properly transfer title of all their assets to their living trust. Families that prefer to trust and rely upon the guidance of experts will not be happy with this option.

Theo Estate Planning

Theo Estate Planning offers comprehensive estate plans for young families, empty- nesters, and everyone in between. 

Pros

  •  You children will never be in the care of strangers
  • Your children will be raised by the person or people you trust most to provide a loving home and to impart your values
  • Your affairs will be handled privately
  • Your hard-earned money won't be wasted on court costs and attorney fees associated with the probate process
  • Estate taxes will be minimized
  • You'll decide how your property is distributed
  • Your children will receive their inheritances on the schedule you decide
  • You can protect your loved ones' inheritances from bankruptcy, divorce, lawsuits, and other creditors
  • Your values and human, spiritual, and intellectual assets will be captured and preserved for the benefit of your loved ones

Cons

  • Most expensive option

Conclusion:

Planning with Theo Estate Planning is best for families that want the peace of mind of knowing that, if something were to happen, their children would be protected and their wealth would be preserved. With this option, you'll rest easy at night knowing that everything has been properly taken care of. 

Special Offer

As a thank you for educating yourself about estate planning and my services, I'd like to offer you a certificate for $300 of the cost of your estate plan. Enter your details below to claim your certificate.