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A mid-grade Apple laptop can cost around $2,000 (or more). Every year parents adhere to their child’s request (or whining) for such products and send them off to high school or college with the machine in hand. There is nothing wrong with this purchase—you are making an investment for the future (i.e. your child’s education).  So why would you not plan your estate?

If you pass away in California without a trust, the likely outcome is that your family will pay 1-2% of the entire value of your estate to a probate lawyer. Do the math: 2% is owed to your probate lawyer if your estate is between $200,000-$800,000. So, if your estate is worth $800,000, your lawyer gets $16,000 from your estate by law–no negotiating

. You could have avoided this cost by spending roughly the same amount you spent on your child’s laptop. Let us not forget that even an uncontested probate (no lawsuit or other legal hitches) can last anywhere from 12-24 months.

Property and finances aside, what about your health? Who do you want to make critical financial decisions on your behalf if you are “incapacitated” (i.e. in a coma)? At what point would you want to be kept on life support and what point should it be withdrawn?  A proper estate plan goes much further than just wills and trusts and addresses critical healthcare documents such as the Power of Attorney and Healthcare Directive.

Estate planning is not only for the wealthy. In fact, most of my clients are hardworking blue collar individuals that care deeply about their family. But for every hardworking family I assist, I come across 5 more families that haven’t planned their estate and express little to no interest in doing so. This concerns and pains me as I genuinely aim to keep hardworking people out of probate. Why would someone work so hard and not protect what they have earned?

In any event, I strongly encourage families to come speak with me. Life is full of difficult decisions, but this decision is easy—especially when talking to me is free and most estate plans cost less than your computer. Happy New Year!

Jaspreet Tiwana, Esq.; 2333 Alcalde St.;Santa Clara, CA 95054. 408-318-3045

Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...