Myth: If you die without a will, everything you own automatically goes to your surviving spouse.

Fact: No. Your surviving spouse would receive all of your community property and one-half of your separate property. But you might not want your spouse to inherit all of your community property, nor any of your separate property, especially if you have children from a different marriage, whom your spouse could disinherit in her will. That’s why planning ahead with a trusted legal advisor is important, so that you control who receives your assets, during life and after death.

Many people consider formal estate planning to be something that only wealthy business people or entrepreneurs should consider. Not true!

Estate planning involves more than writing a will. It encompasses financial, tax and health-care planning and includes decisions about your family, your property and your future needs in case you can no longer take care of yourself. At Smith Law, we believe that everybody should designate a trusted person to manage their assets and help make their health care decisions before a sudden illness or unexpected death creates a crisis.

Even if your estate is small, we can help with estate planning needs, including:

In addition, our clients benefit from sound legal advice and creation of structures to ensure proper management of their estate, their affairs and their finances, including:

We help clients analyze the tax consequences of making gifts to their children or grandchildren, to charities or to other loved ones. For larger estates, we can help determine ways to preserve assets and reduce or postpone any estate taxes for which an estate’s heirs might be liable.