Sacramento Estate Planning Blog

Estate planning procrastination: how to stop it

Most people avoid thinking about death. The mere thought of our own mortality often makes us uncomfortable, and it depresses our spirits.

As a result, many Californians choose to put off estate planning until they feel "ready" to do so. For a lot of these individuals, though, the time never feels right. That is why it is important to sit down and really think about estate planning, even if it's just the creation of a will.

Effective estate planning can avoid illusion of unfairness

There is a lot of decision-making that goes into estate planning. Perhaps the biggest decisions are those that determine to whom assets will be distributed when the time comes.

For many Californians this is a simple choice. They simply decide to evenly divide their assets amongst their loved ones, whether that be their siblings, their parents, or their children. In many cases, individuals simply choose to leave everything to their spouse.

Daughters challenge late father's trust involving Denver Broncos

We've set it on this blog before, but it is worth saying again. There is a lot at stake in estate planning.

An estate plan can completely reshape the lives of heirs and beneficiaries for the better, or it can make significant contributions to charitable organizations and society as a whole. It can even mean the difference in a pet's life when an individual utilizes a pet trust.

Is a simple will enough for your estate planning needs?

Estate plans can look different depending on the assets, individuals, and wishes involved. While newly created estate plans can vary from person to person, these plans can evolve over time as modifications become necessary to reflect life's realities.

Some Californians believe that a simple will is enough to satisfy their estate planning needs. While a will may be all that is needed in some circumstances, those who want more control over their assets after they are gone should make full use of the other estate planning tools at their disposal.

How do I talk to loved ones about estate planning?

Thinking about your own mortality can be a challenging thing to do. Yet, coming to terms with the inevitable is the first step in being proactive about planning for your estate and the financial security of your loved ones.

So, how do you go about talking to your parents about the importance of estate planning? There are several ways to approach the matter.

Our firm offers comprehensive and creative estate planning

If you're reading this blog, then you may be interested in creating or modifying an existing estate plan. Many Californians find themselves overwhelmed by the mere thought of taking such actions.

Some find it difficult to discuss and plan for their own mortality, while others simply have so many assets and debts that they feel unable to think about all of them at the same time. Regardless of your how you feel about estate planning, it is necessary if you want to protect your assets while at the same time provide for your loved ones. Engaging in estate planning even allows you to dictate how you want to be cared for in the event that you are unable to make those decisions on your own.

The life of a trust

Trusts are powerful estate planning tools that Californians can utilize to help bring their vision of the future into reality. In order to successfully do so, though, they must understand how trusts work and how to utilize them to their advantage.

This is especially true considering the fact that there are a variety of trusts available to those planning their estates, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. This week, we're going to take a step back and take a look at the life of a trust in hopes that Californians will develop a better basic understanding of these legal entities.

Add clarity to your estate plan with letters of instruction

A will can be an integral part of your estate plan. It typically dictates how assets are to be divided, which sometimes includes pouring assets over into a trust. Poorly drafted wills can present a number of legal problems, including the risk that the document will be deemed legally invalid. Additionally, a bad will can lead to family infighting that the testator probably wanted to avoid. This is why it is usually best for Californians to work with an attorney who can help them ensure that their wills are clear and enforceable.

Yet, due to their legal nature, wills are sometimes impersonal and don't allow a testator the opportunity to explain why the estate is being distributed as indicated in the will. Also, a will typically doesn't specify how the testator hopes the estate's assets will be used. This is where letters of instruction can help.

Don't forget to address digital assets in estate plan

It wasn't that long ago that everything a person owned could be physically touched. Money, items of personal property, journals, and even photographs could be held in one's hand. Nowadays, though, much of our lives has be digitized. Thousands of dollars can change hands without ever touching paper money, and our most cherished memories are often stored somewhere online. While this convenience may make our lives easier, it can make estate planning trickier.

To start, most of these digital assets require secured login before they can be accessed. Those who fail to take this into account when planning their estate may leave their loved ones with no way access and manage those assets. This may mean that those assets, such as photographs and personal writings, will be forever deleted considering that many web-based services delete accounts after a certain period of time after an account-holder's death.

Estate planning and the pour-over will

Oftentimes, a will serves as the foundation of an estate plan. When a will is improperly drafted, an individual's estate may be in jeopardy. This is because a poorly created will can lead to ambiguity, challenges, a lengthy probate process and even an undesired distribution of assets. Therefore, Californians need to be diligent in their efforts to create their wills and update them regularly. Skilled legal professionals may be able to advise as to how best to utilize these estate planning tools.

One option is to use what is referred to as a "pour-over will." Although even a basic will typically dictates how assets will be passed on to heirs, a dated will can mean that certain assets are missed. In these instances, those unidentified assets may pass down in accordance with state law, which may not be in-line with a testator's wishes. Additionally, a testator may not have as much control over assets that are not placed in a trust. Assets that aren't place in a trust are not subjected to the trust's conditions, though. This is where a pour-over will can help.

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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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