Sacramento Estate Planning Blog

Could you benefit from a living trust?

When it comes to estate planning, you never want to sell yourself short. You should do whatever you can to protect the well-being of you and your family, both now and in the future.

And for this reason, it never hurts to learn more about the benefits of a living trust. Here are some of the many reasons to consider adding this to your estate plan:

  • Avoid probate: The assets that you include in your living trust are not subject to probate upon your death. This allows them to be distributed to your heirs in a more time-efficient manner, and all without the involvement of the court.
  • Privacy protection: Should you have concerns about privacy, a living trust can put them to rest. A living trust is not made public record upon your death, unlike a will. This keeps your affairs private.
  • A big part of your incapacity plan: You can use a living trust as part of your incapacity and long-term care plan. For example, if you become ill and are unable to manage your affairs, your trustee can seamlessly step in. This avoids a situation in which the court has to get involved.

Durable financial power of attorney: Do you need it?

There is no legal requirement to create a durable financial power of attorney but with so many benefits, it's something to strongly consider.

Through a durable financial power of attorney, you give another individual, known as a financial agent, the power to manage your finances in the event of your incapacitation.

Anyone can believe one of these estate planning myths

When it comes to estate planning, there's so much gray area that it's easy to confuse fact and fiction. Unfortunately, if you believe a simple myth to be true, it can harm your ability to create a comprehensive, legally binding estate plan to protect you and your family.

Here are some of the many estate planning myths that could cause you trouble:

  • You're too young for an estate plan: Even young people, such as those who are just entering the working world, need an estate plan. Don't wait until later in life to think about estate planning, as you never know what tomorrow holds.
  • Your family will take care of everything: You hope that this is the case, but there are laws in place that takeover should you pass on without a will or trust. Rather than put your loved ones in a bad spot, create an estate plan to protect them upon your passing.
  • It's only for asset planning: Yes, you create an estate plan to ensure that your assets end up with the right people upon your death. However, it's much more than that. You can use it to name a guardian, appoint a power of attorney agent and plan for incapacity. And that's just the start.

Take steps to prevent a will contest upon your death

When creating a will, it's natural to think about what will happen upon your death. After all, that's a big part of estate planning.

This could lead you to consider the idea that a will contest could come into play. Since you don't want this to happen, here are some steps you can take when creating your estate plan:

  • Proper execution: In other words, don't type out your will, sign it and stick it in your desk drawer. It should be properly executed by a legal professional, while also signed and witnessed by two individuals.
  • Talk to your loved ones: You're under no obligation to do so, but discussing your estate plan with your loved ones will give them a better idea of where your head is at and what will happen upon your death.
  • Don't give off the impression of undue influence: Undue influence is one of the most common reasons for challenging a will. To help protect against this, don't involve any loved ones who are inheriting your assets when creating your estate plan. Also, keep these individuals out of all conversations with your estate planning team, such as your attorney and tax professional.

What should you look for when comparing nursing homes?

There may come a point when you're seeking a nursing home facility for yourself or a loved one, such as an aging parent. With the right long-term care plan in place, you'll find it easier to not only make a final decision but to also pay for the required service.

With more than 15,000 nursing homes in the United States, you'll have many options when it comes time to compare facilities. And while many of them may appear the same, there are some key differences from one to the next.

Long-term care planning: Focus on these details

Creating an estate plan can be confusing, challenging and rewarding all at the same time. This is particularly true when you take into consideration long-term care planning, as it brings you face-to-face with the possibility that you may require regular health care assistance at some point in the future.

It's critical to include a long-term care plan in your estate plan, with a focus on details such as:

  • Nursing home care: In addition to choosing a potential nursing home, have a clear idea of how you'll pay for it. Doing this in advance saves you from dealing with the hassle should you need care in the future.
  • Long-term care insurance: It's one of the best ways to pay for long-term care, as an insurance policy is designed to cover some or all of the expense. Buying when you are young and healthy will save you money.
  • Medicaid planning: If you're eligible for Medicaid now or want to qualify in the future, you need to take some key steps. Any mistake, such as ignoring the look-back period, can hinder your ability to receive this government benefit.

There are many things expected of a trustee

When creating a trust, it's critical to name the right person as your trustee. This is the person who will step in to manage and administer your trust upon your death. If you don't choose a trustworthy and honest individual, it could end up costing your loved ones in the long run.

Here are some of the many things a trustee is responsible for:

  • Following instructions: Most importantly, the trustee is responsible for following the terms and conditions of the trust.
  • Managing assets: Until distribution, the trustee will manage assets, such as real estate and investments.
  • Investing: It's not always necessary, but there may be assets that require investing while the trustee is in charge. They must do so in a conservative and reasonable manner.
  • Keeping accurate records: It's a must for your trustee to keep accurate records, as this allows them to report as necessary to the beneficiaries.

Is it time to review your estate plan?

Once you create an estate plan, you'll feel much better about the state of your affairs. However, don't assume that you're set for the rest of your life.

There are times when it's critical to review your estate plan, as you may need to make some adjustments to ensure that it aligns with your intentions. Here are some significant times when you should review your estate planning documents:

  • After a divorce or marriage. If you end your marriage or tie the knot, it's likely to impact your estate plan. Review it carefully for key changes.
  • Someone named in your estate plan has passed on. If one of your heirs predeceases you, you will need to adjust your estate plan accordingly. The same holds true if the executor of your will or your power of attorney dies.
  • Passage of new state or federal laws. If any estate planning laws go into effect or are altered, a thorough review is a must. You may need to adjust your plans to accommodate these changes.
  • The value of your estate increases. If you received an inheritance yourself, your estate may now be worth much more than it was when you initially drafted your plans. This could change the decisions you make regarding the distribution of your assets.

Estate planning fears are very real

The simple thought of estate planning has the potential to raise your blood pressure and make you sweat. And if you're actually in the process of making estate planning decisions, there's a good chance you'll feel even more anxious.

Estate planning fears are very real, but that doesn't mean you can let them overtake you. If you do, there's a chance that you'll never create a comprehensive estate plan, which can affect you and your loved ones now and down the road.

What does the executor of a will do?

When creating a will, you can't finalize the process until you've selected an executor. While you could make just any decision and hope it works out, this is a big risk that could put your estate at risk and your loved ones in an awkward position after your death

Before choosing an executor, it's critical to understand their duties. These can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Reviewing the will to better understand the terms and conditions
  • Distributing property based on the language of the will
  • Maintaining all property until it's ready for distribution
  • Paying all taxes and bills associated with the estate
  • Making any required court appearances, such as for the probate process

Contact Our Law Office Today

If you would like to discuss representation or have another question about my firm, please call 916-248-4465 or email my Sacramento, California, office to arrange for a consultation.

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Sacramento, CA 95814-1808

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