Estate Planning

We'll help you plan for the unthinkable.

No one wants to think about what might happen to their children and family when they pass. However, in order to make things easier on your loved ones when the time comes, or in the event of tragedy, it's important to secure your finances and assets with an estate plan.

Vanessa Pena doing a client consult at her office in San Diego

Know the law where you live

Your estate planning needs are entirely dependent on the state that you live in. In the state of California, if you own a piece of property and or if you have assets above $150,000, your estate, upon your death, is subject to probate, meaning your beneficiaries (children, heirs, etc.) cannot access your estate without first going through a lengthy probate process. Probate can last anywhere from six months to ten years, depending on the estate.

To bypass this process, the state of California has created a living trust. The living trust is set up by you and/or your spouse, and it will own your assets. For example, if you were to pass away, your successor trustee or back-up (the appointed person you have chosen), can step in immediately upon your death and take care of your bills, sell your home and distribute funds to your beneficiaries.

We listen and help you make plans for the future.

At Pena Law, we understand how personal the estate planning process can be. We're here to listen to you and learn about your unique situation so that we can help you craft a plan to secure the future well-being of your loved ones.

Three reasons you should have a living trust

1. Avoid probate

A living trust allows your successor trustees to bypass the probate process.

2. Help your children plan for the future

If you have young children under the age of 18, in lieu of them receiving a large sum of money on their 18 birthday, you can designate when and how they would receive their inheritance. Our office typically recommends a child receive their inheritance in increments of 1/3 at twenty-five, 1/3 at thirty and 1/3 at thirty-five, with the ability to have health, education and support paid out of the trust for their benefit prior to those ages. For example, prior to the age of 18, a child can access money for medical bills, college tuition, and other necessities a parent would normally provide.

3. Protect your children

If you have children from a prior marriage, there is a specific type of trust that designates your half of the assets to specifically go to your children from your previous marriage. This will protect your children when you enter a new marriage.