wills and trusts Paso Robles

Law Offices of Mary Ann Tardiff offers fixed fee estate planning

-The Law Office of Mary Ann Tardiff recently announced new fixed fees for estate plans. The Atascadero-based attorney provides estate planning, wills, and trusts to Paso Robles, Atascadero and the California Central Coast.

Fixed fees, along with making house calls, are part of Tardiff’s common sense approach to her law practice. Practicing law for over 30 years, Tardiff emphasizes working with people’s daily lifestyles. “People have lives that don’t always fit into normal fee structures or even the 8–5 office structure,” said Tardiff. “Fixed fees are a down-to-earth way to help my clients take care of important estate planning. So is my house-call service. I’m a person like everyone else, who just happens to be an attorney.”

“Why do I need an estate plan? I’m not rich,” is the response from most people when the topic comes up. However, wealth isn’t a requirement for an estate plan, and many are surprised to discover how much value their possessions are actually worth. Anyone who has assets that are worth more than $184,500 total needs a will and trust if living in Paso Robles or anywhere in California.

In California, when someone dies, leaving an estate valued at more than $184,500 that is not included in a trust the California Probate Court distributes assets according to state law, regardless of someone’s wishes. Anyone who owns real estate in California has an estate worth more than $184,500, even if the only property is the old family home that was purchased in the 1960s.

A will alone can be contested, drawing out legal proceedings for months or years, and there is no guarantee the decedent’s wishes will be honored. Since there is more to an estate plan than just deciding which relative gets which assets, it’s even more critical to set up an estate plan that includes a trust and a will. The trust makes sure that important matters are carried out according to the decedent’s wishes, including:

  • Guardianships for minor children or dependent adults
  • Beneficiaries of insurance policies
  • Disposition of personal property, including the family home and any other real estate
  • Care for pets
  • Living will, or Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD), which specifies health care in the event of serious or life-threatening injury and end-of-life wishes.

One of the benefits of an estate plan is to legally avoid probate and make sure that assets are distributed according to one’s wishes upon that person’s death.

Whether you are a young person starting out, a family, or a senior citizen, Mary Ann Tardiff can help you with an estate plan, will and trust in Paso Robles or anywhere on the Central Coast that is appropriate to your circumstances or make changes to an existing trust.

Mary Ann Tardiff is an experienced attorney who can advise you on the most successful ways to achieve your estate planning goals. Through detailed analysis, Mary Ann can:

  • Inventory all of your assets
  • Assist with retitling of assets and preparing deeds and transferring those assets so they are properly held in your trust
  • Establish guardianship for minor children, dependent adults who rely on your care and even beloved pets
  • Assist with setting up college funds
  • Make sure favorite philanthropic causes are included in your estate plan
  • Draft a will
  • Assist in preparing the AHCD
  • Provide guidance for power of attorney related to wills, living wills and trusts
  • Establish trusts and other legal entities beneficial to the estate

Law Office of Mary Ann Tardiff
3540 El Camino Real
Atascadero, CA 93422
(805) 451–6683

estate planning Atascadero

Atascadero estate planning attorney reports ‘Why everyone needs an estate plan’

Someone doesn’t have to be rich or old to have an estate plan. Most adults have more assets than they realize and Mary Ann Tardiff, the Atascadero estate planning attorney recently released the answers to the most commonly asked questions about estate plans.

Some of the most common questions people ask when the subject of estate plans comes up in a conversation include:

  • “Why do I need an estate plan? I’m not old.”
  • “I don’t have anything, why do I need one?”
  • “How do I get started?”
  • “How do I change the estate plan if something happens?”

 “Most of us don’t realize how much we have in assets until we sit down and start making a list. Age has very little to do with it,” said Tardiff. For example, a young, single professional may have a retirement plan and a life insurance plan with his or her employer. This person may also have other assets such as an investment account, a checking and savings account, a few inherited pieces of nice furniture, some jewelry, a mountain bike, or a pet. What happens if this person becomes incapacitated or dies? Who gets the benefits of the retirement plan and insurance? Who takes care of the pet or inherits the heirloom furniture, jewelry, or expensive bicycle? Who can make decisions on this person’s behalf and pay the bills in the event of incapacitation? The Atascadero estate planning attorney can provide the legal guidance to make sure all the assets are protected and distributed as the individual wishes.

At a minimum, an estate plan includes a will, an Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD) and appropriate powers of attorney designating who can make health care and end-of-life decisions and who can have access to personal funds to pay bills while the individual is still alive. Depending on the total value of the estate, a trust may be advised as well.

In California, assets over $184,500 are subject to probate if the individual dies without a will and a trust. Even if the person dies with just a will, any estate valued at over $184,500 is still subject to probate proceedings. The probate court is not obligated to follow the decedent’s wishes as they are set down in the will, however, when the assets are in a trust, the estate bypasses probate.

California Probate Code specifies an order of inheritance if there is no will or if the will is contested. For example, if the expensive mountain bike was intended to be given to a favorite niece but there is no will or trust, the bike might be given to a parent or sibling and, depending on family dynamics, the relative with the bike might not give it to the intended person. The same thing can happen with investments, furnishings, a home if one owns a home, and other assets.

Starting an estate plan at any age is the foundation for the future as more assets are accumulated. It’s easier to add assets to an existing plan than to sit down and try to list everything that has been acquired over a span of many years.

Estate plans can be modified at any time and there are certain life events that mean a review is in order:

  • Getting married or divorced.
  • A new job or a promotion.
  • Buying new real estate.
  • Adding a child to the family.
  • Setting up guardianships for dependent children or dependent adults.
  • College funds for the children.
  • Collections such as art and jewelry are assets.
  • Additional retirement funds, insurance policies and investments.

Mary Ann Tardiff assists clients with assessing their estates and setting up complete estate plans. A well-organized estate plan and trust bypass probate and makes sure that the estate is managed and distributed according to the decedent’s wishes upon death. A revocable trust remains under the control of the individual as long as he or she is alive. Beneficiaries can be added or changed. Assets can be added or removed and any other changes made.

A consultation with the Atascadero estate planning attorney is the way to get started. Every question is answered and you receive a thorough understanding of the benefits of an estate plan.

Paso Robles estate planning

Paso Robles estate planning attorney makes house calls

Mary Ann Tardiff, a Paso Robles estate attorney, has made a commitment to provide down-to-earth, practical and affordable solutions for her clients and one unique thing she does along those lines is make house calls. An attorney for over 30 years, Tardiff believes that making legal services as accessible as possible go a long way towards solving a lot of problems for ordinary daily lifestyles.

“I’m a person like everyone else,” says Tardiff. “I just happen to be an attorney.” Clients are always welcome in her law office, but Tardiff also understands that it’s not always easy for someone to take the time off work, or find a caregiver for an elderly parent, or even a babysitter.

All it takes is a phone call to the Law Offices of Mary Ann Tardiff to arrange for a house call either during the day, after hours and even on weekends under certain circumstances.

The broad legal experience of the Paso Robles estate attorney mean that Mary Ann Tardiff can serve a variety of legal needs, especially matters of estate planning, wills and trusts, elder law and family law. Sometimes timing is very important when decisions are needed about a trust, will, advanced health care directive (AHCD) or power of attorney. Meeting a client in need at a convenient location can help speed up the legal processes and avoid critical delays.

Whether a young person starting out, a family, or a senior citizen, a trust that is appropriate to the circumstances can be a source of peace-of-mind. Mary Ann Tardiff can help set up a new trust or make changes to an existing trust. A properly established trust is one legal way to make sure wishes about end-of-life care or how an estate is preserved and distributed are carried out. A trust legally avoids probate court and spares surviving family the concerns and decisions about distributing an estate’s assets.

Estate planning isn’t the only matter where a house call is convenient. Meeting at convenient locations to have documents signed so they can be filed and processed quickly serves the best interest of any client in any matter.

House calls can be of benefit for a wide variety of matters, including:

  • Initial consultation
  • Signing documents
  • Drafting a will, completing a AHCD and powers of attorney
  • Advice about legal matters
  • Reviewing contracts and other legal documents
  • Setting up a business and business entity
  • And more

The Paso Robles estate planning attorney is available for consultations in her office during regular business hours or other flexible times as needed, including house calls.

After completing a B.A. at the University of California, Mary Ann attended the Santa Barbara College of Law, graduating with her J.D. degree in 1984. She was admitted to the California Bar Association in 1986. She has served as a commissioner on the Board of Parole Hearings for the California Department of Corrections, as a Judge Pro Tem and practiced law in Santa Barbara before moving to Atascadero. She serves and supports the local communities and all of San Luis Obispo County and Monterey County.

Law Office of Mary Ann Tardiff
3540 El Camino Real
Atascadero, CA 93422
(805) 451-6683

attorney Atascadero

Atascadero attorney serves the needs of senior citizens

Senior citizens have needs that are more than concerns about Social Security and health care. The Law Offices of Mary Ann Tardiff, the Atascadero attorney, recently released a list of concerns that seniors frequently face these days.

Today’s seniors are vital and healthy for much longer than their parents or grandparents. Living longer and being able to do more means there are more social challenges for living the good life. Along with those social challenges, the challenges of safe living situations, health care, accessibility, and all forms of elder abuse are, sadly, still with us. Mary Ann Tardiff is committed to working with elders and their families to help seniors be safe, healthy, and productive and care for their estates and their families.

Let’s take a look at some of the top concerns for today’s senior citizens:

  • Age and job discrimination: Just because someone celebrates their 65th birthday doesn’t mean they are ready to settle down. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that seniors 55 and over make up nearly 20% of the workforce. While financial concerns may influence the decision to continue to work, there are many other contributing factors. Seniors today have valuable knowledge, education, skill, life and professional experience, energy, and a work ethic to bring to any employer. Those skills and experience are priceless but not every employer has the same opinion about the value of years of experience, education, and perfect skills. Age discrimination in the workplace is a real issue. Not only does that discrimination deprive a business of needed skills and experience, but it also threatens the individual’s financial situation and sense of personal worth and, it’s illegal.
  • Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits: In most circumstances, signing up for and using these benefits are trouble-free. Once signed-up, payments and services are automatic. But, there are those occasions when someone at the governmental level makes a mistake or a decision based on wrong information and a nightmare starts. A legal advocate such as the Atascadero attorney, Mary Ann Tardiff, can cut through the government red tape.
  • Estate planning: Seniors who have built up any kind of holdings, even if it’s just the family home, are going to be well-served by an attorney who is fully versed in California laws for estate planning, trusts, wills, and probate. Trusting that heirs won’t fight over an estate, or that a will alone will guarantee your wishes are carried out after your death, are not the best estate planning strategies. As of 2022 in California, any estate valued at more than $184,500 that is not in a trust, or has certain Transfer on Death (TOD) provisions filed, is subject to probate. A will alone may or may not have a bearing in probate court. Most of us have more estate value than we think we do. The family home is only part of the estate. Retirement accounts, insurance policies, personal belongings such as jewelry, art collections, and even vehicles are all part of the estate. These days, we can think we are poor, but the probate court may see it differently.
  • Living wills: We can tell our children what our end-of-life wishes are, but there’s no guarantee those wishes will be honored. A living will, also known as an Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD) and associated powers of attorney (POA) for finances and health decisions are the best way to make sure health care, financial, and end-of-life wishes are honored.
  • Eldercare: We can say to our children, close relatives, and friends that we wish to age at home, or describe the kind of elder care we want, but, again, there’s no guarantee those wishes will be honored.
  • Elder abuse: Elder abuse is more than many think. Some of the aspects of elder abuse are subtle, resulting in trusting seniors losing their homes and savings. Some elder abuse is physical abuse. Some abuse takes place in senior living facilities and, saddest of all, some elder abuse takes place at the hands of family. Many local agencies have departments that focus on senior abuse issues. Anytime elder abuse is suspected file a report with the police and with the local senior or adult services department. The senior who is being victimized may also need a legal advocate, meaning it’s a smart move to reach out to the Atascadero attorney, Mary Ann Tardiff.  

Assisting families with elder care issues

Family members are often the first to notice changes in an elder’s behavior. Memory loss, falling, a serious illness, forgetting to eat or pay bills, and changes In hygiene habits may mean the elder is no longer able to take proper care of himself and it’s time for the family to intervene. 

The elder may be uncooperative to the point he or she is a danger to self. They may be making unsound decisions about health or finances. Another relative or a caretaker may be taking unfair advantage or even physically harming them. 

Mary Ann Tardiff helps senior citizens and families reach the most appropriate decisions about elder care and safety, including assisting with any necessary court proceedings. 

If you or a family member need assistance with a senior welfare issue, call Mary Ann Tardiff today.