Law Offices Of W. Steven Chou

20 Corporate Park
Suite 295
Irvine, CA 92606

6 Centerpointe Drive
Suite 700
La Palma, CA 90623

Call For A Free 20 Minute Phone Consultation

(714) 367-8460

Law Offices Of W. Steven Chou

Estate Planning Services In Orange County And
Los Angeles, CA

At the Law Offices of Steven W Chou we can help you plan your estate by drafting wills that will express your desired plans for yourself and your family, setting up legal guardianships, establishing a family trust and executing Special Needs Trusts. Our Law firm specializes in estate planning, trusts, guardianship and probate with offices in La Palma & Irvine California.

When it comes to planning your estate no two cases are the same but the more experience an attorney has in the field of practice specific to wills, trusts, benefits and probate the better your final outcome will be. Our clients are looking for knowledgeable legal advice and the executions of a plan that will achieve what you want. If you have not begun the process of examining your estate needs or plans we recommend that a consultation is set up to discuss your long term needs and goals.

Estate Planning Legal Assistance In The Following Areas

Client Testimonials

"Steven did a much better job than my previous attorneys. He covered some of the issues that were not addressed in adequate details by the previous attorneys. I highly recommend this attorney, Steven Chou, for your estate and business legal matters."


Areas We Serve

Proudly Serving:
  • Los Angeles County
  • Orange County
  • Irvine
  • Laguna Hills
  • Cerritos
  • Whittier
  • Long Beach
  • Laguna Niguel
  • Mission Viejo
  • Newport Beach
  • Anaheim
  • La Palma
  • Cypress
  • Downey

Estate Planning and Probate Terms to Understand When Talking to Your Attorney

Estate planning is the process in which an experienced attorney aids you in putting together your financial and healthcare wishes, in order to ensure that they are respected upon your death or incapacitation. Using estate planning tools is the surest way to make sure that your children, your spouse, and all your other loved ones are taken care of after you are gone.

Probate vs Estate Planning in La Palma, California

Probate and estate planning, for the most part, are two different processes. When a person has died and left behind property that cannot be automatically transferred to another person through use of a trust, joint ownership with a right of survivorship, or some other estate planning tool, that property will have to go through the probate process.

Probate is the legal procedure that takes place when a court of law acknowledges a person’s death on the record and validates their will, if they had prepared one. The judge will oversee the payment of all the deceased individual’s debts and the distribution of all their assets. This process is called probate administration.

If the deceased took the time to draft a will before they died, the personal representative that they named in their will must file for probate. The general rule in California is that the personal representative has one year from the death to file for probate. If this person fails to file for probate within that time period, the estate will be probated as if the individual had died without a will.

Probate can take years to complete, but there are some assets that can be transferred outside of the process. These assets, together, make up the deceased individual’s non-probate estate. These exempt assets can include life insurance proceeds, pensions, and 401(k) accounts. Non-probate assets are meant to be transferred directly from the institution holding them to the beneficiary who is named on the account without needing to enter court. Without a qualified La Palma, CA probate attorney guiding you, the California probate process can be intimidating, expensive, and very time consuming.

The goal of estate planning, in many cases, is to completely avoid the probate process. A skilled wills and trust attorney in La Palma, CA can present to you a complete estate planning toolbox and explain which tools would work best for you and your family’s circumstances. The Law Offices of W. Steven Chou offers an experienced estate planning attorney serving La Palma, Los Angeles County, Orange County, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Anaheim, Cerritos, Whittier, Long Beach, La Palma, Cypress, and Downey, California.

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Estate Planning and Probate Terms to Understand When Talking to Your Attorney

When you start to learn about estate planning and the probate process in La Palma, CA, you will come across many new terms. Before you begin contacting La Palma estate planning attorneys to discuss your options, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with a few common terms:

  • Will: The legal document that spells out how you want your assets distributed after you die.
  • Decedent: The person who has died.
  • Beneficiaries: The people who will receive assets from a decedent’s estate.
  • Estate: The sum of all of the decedent’s assets, including bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, stocks, bonds, life insurance, retirement accounts, and personal belongings.
  • Personal representative/Executor: The person who was named in a will to perform certain duties, including inventorying the decedent’s assets, paying their final debts, filing the final taxes of the estate and lawsuits for any debts owed to the estate, and distributing the assets to the named beneficiaries.
  • Administrator: The person assigned by the court to administer an estate when the decedent died without a will.
  • Trust: A legal setup where the ownership of assets is transferred to a trustee, who will then have a fiduciary duty to manage and distribute those assets for the benefit of the named beneficiaries of that trust. Different types of trusts can be used for different purposes, such as to achieve a tax goal or avoid the probate process.
  • Trustee: The person who legally holds title to all the assets in a trust and manages and distributes those assets, according to the terms and conditions that are specified by that trust. A trustee may be an individual, a bank, or a trust company.
  • Fiduciary duty: A legal responsibility that is imposed upon a person and requires them to exercise the highest levels of integrity possible when handling the assets that are entrusted to them.
  • Advance Medical Directive: A legal document that names an individual to make your medical decisions, if you become unable to do so. This document can also expresses your wishes as to the extent of life-extending medical care you desire, in the instance of imminent death.

Office Locations

La Palma Office

6 Centerpointe Drive
Suite 700
La Palma, CA 90623

Phone: (714) 367-8460

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Irvine Office

20 Corporate Park
Suite 295
Irvine, CA 92606

Phone: (714) 367-8460

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Business Hours: (Monday - Friday): 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM | (Saturday & Sunday): By Appointment Only