Sacramento Estate Planning Blog

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

3 estate planning details to discuss with your elderly parents

As your parents age, it's natural to have concerns about their estate plan. Even if they have a plan in place, it never hurts to discuss it with them to ensure that they haven't overlooked anything of importance.

Here are three estate planning details to discuss with your elderly parents:

  • Long-term care planning: For example, if your parents are eligible for Medicaid, talk to them about the application process and when it makes sense to apply. They may find that they've been missing out on this government benefit for a long time.
  • Incapacity planning: The older your parents get, the better chance there is that one or both of them will face incapacity. Through incapacity planning, your parents can name someone to manage their health and finances in the event that they're unable to do so.
  • Asset protection: There are strategies your parents can follow to protect their assets, such as in the event that they require a long-term stay in a nursing home. The sooner they think about asset protection, the sooner they can implement a plan.

The three types of wills recognized in California

Determining how to leave one's assets after death can be difficult. There may be a number of emotions that come into play pertaining to one's own mortality and relationships with loved ones. As a result, some may find it difficult to find the best path forward. Fortunately, the estate planning process can be molded to fit everyone's needs. This week, let's take a look at the types of wills that may come into play during the estate planning process.

The first type of will is an attested will. These wills are preferred because they are typed out and other individuals witness their signing. These witnesses should not have any interest in the will, meaning that they are not inheriting anything through the will. This prevents any claims of coercion or undue influence arising later down the road. Attested wills are also self-authenticating, so long as they are signed under penalties of perjury, which means that no testimony is needed to prove their legal validity. This can speed up the probate process.

What to do if you're concerned about too big of an inheritance

For many Californians, estate planning is about setting their loved one's up for as much financial stability as possible. In many cases, this means splitting an estate amongst children or leaving everything to a surviving spouse. While many individuals wish they had more assets to leave to their loved ones, there are some instances where an estate planner may be concerned about leaving too much.

The fear is quite simple. Those who have worked hard to accumulate their wealth often worry that leaving a significant amount of wealth to their children will destroy any motivation those children may have to work hard and contribute to society. While there is no evidence to suggest that this is a well-founded fear, there is some suggestion that inheriting significant wealth early in life can lead to a certain amount of societal isolation.

Helping Californians achieve their estate planning goals\

With the ringing in of a New Year, people often reflect on the events that have personally affected them over the last year. Some of these events may be joyous, such as the birth of a grandchild or marriage, but others may be heartbreaking, such as the passing of a loved one. While these events and their remembrance can give rise to a whole host of emotions, they should also spur consideration of what the future may look like. While this often takes the form of goal planning, such as changing jobs, losing weight or being more communicative with loved ones, individuals should also think about their estate and how it will be handled when their time comes.

The first step in this process is merely confronting the reality that a time will come when one's estate must be dispensed with and recognizing that the process can have a profound impact on loved ones. Once this step is accomplished, then holistic estate planning can begin in a customized process that seeks to meet the individual's vision for the future. This may sound like a daunting process, especially considering that an estate plan should be revisited often after major life events like the ones mentioned above, but compassionate, experienced and skilled estate planning attorneys like those at our firm can help simplify the process.

Estate planning and the testamentary trust

There are a lot of estate planning tools at your disposal. While most people think that a simple will is enough to meet their needs, this oftentimes isn't the case. While a simple will may provide some estate protections, they often don't go far enough to distribute assets in a way that totally aligns with an individual's wishes. This is why many individuals choose to incorporate other legal documents into their estate plans, such as trusts.

One commonly used type of trust is the testamentary trust. This type of trust is created through a will, meaning that it technically doesn't come into existence until the will goes through the probate process. This differs from a revocable living trust, which is created and exists during an estate planner's lifetime. Also, unlike a revocable trust, a testamentary trust is irrevocable. The testamentary trust, like all other trusts, names a trustee to manage trust assets, as well as a beneficiary.

Try to avoid these common estate planning mistakes

Thinking about the future can be inspiring but it can also be a difficult task. Just as its name implies, successful estate planning requires foresight and diligence. While this is true for the initial creation of an estate plan, it holds true as time passes and life changes occur. This is why Californians need to be thoughtful about how and when to modify their estate plans. This is really the only way to achieve desired outcomes. This week, this blog will look at some common estate planning mistakes. Those who find themselves susceptible to any number of them should consider reaching out to an estate planning attorney to figure out how best to remedy the situation.

There are a number of estate planning mistakes that can be made. The first, of course, is failing to create a holistic estate plan or any type of estate plan at all. Individuals need to make sure they are addressing not only their assets in their estate plan but also their long-term care and matters pertaining to important health care and financial decisions. Another common mistake is failing to change an estate plan after important life events like the birth of a child or grandchild, divorce and death of named beneficiaries and heirs.

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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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