Planning for Everyone You Love and Everything You Have
At Kundani & Chang, we understand that your most important assets are your loved ones. More than your financial wealth, your family is the most important, unique, personal, and valuable treasure you have. We understand this because we have families of our own, and we get how important it is to make sure your loved ones are protected and taken care of. We often ask our clients, "Do you know what would happen to the people you love the most if something unexpected happened to you?" "What would they have to deal with?" "Are they prepared for that?" "Do you have a plan in place, or is your family familiar with the consequences of probate without you?"
Unfortunately, most people think that if they die, their valuables will automatically go to the people they want. This includes your house, your kids, your assets, everything you call your own.
But it’s not that simple.
Unless you have a legal “estate plan” in place, the State of California has a plan for all of your valuables. It’s called “probate,” and except for the courts and the state (who stand to make a large profit from probate proceedings), probate is a no-win situation for the families involved in it. It's one place you don’t want your family to end up. It’s very expensive. It’s very time consuming. It’s very frustrating, and it’s public for all the whole world to see and prey upon your loved ones. To top it off, most of your assets will get seized and frozen while probate proceedings are going on. It's often been said, "Probate is a lawsuit you file against yourself and loved ones, for the sole benefit of your creditors, using your own money."
If you own property greater than $50,000 or if you have combined assets greater than $150,000, your assets will end up in probate if you do not have an estate plan. (Note: contrary to popular belief, a will does not avoid probate).
The Estate Tax
If that wasn’t bad enough, the U.S. government also imposes something called the “estate tax” upon your death. Currently, it’s around 40% and, depending on your citizenship status and how much you own, this tax can wipe out all of your assets pretty quickly – even assuming you get out of probate. (Again, a will does not avoid the estate tax).
An “estate plan” that includes a trust avoids these nightmares. It’s inexpensive. It’s quick. It’s private. And it’s done on your own terms with no governmental interference.
Here’s the main point. Your estate plan needs to be your estate plan. Not some cookie-cutter plan where the attorney will do no more than change your family’s name on some documents, and then charge you for it.
At Kundani & Chang, not only do we customize and design your trust to meet your family’s needs, but we give our clients all sorts of options that many estate planning attorneys have never heard of.
Establishing a Lifetime Relationship
Most importantly, your estate plan will change over the years. That’s because your family will grow and change, your assets will grow and change, and the law will also change. But most estate planning attorneys create your documents once, and then you never hear from them again. When you need their help later to update your trust to reflect these changes, they tell you they will charge you by the hour to talk to them.
At Kundani & Chang, when we hand you your documents, it marks the beginning of our relationship, not the end. We regularly meet our clients and review their plan every three years. And we don't charge hourly fees for it. It’s part of our approach.