Sacramento Estate Planning Blog

Life insurance is an important estate planning consideration

Planning for the future can be a complex process. An estate plan needs to be tailored to fit your needs. This may mean benefiting a charitable cause, taking care of a long loved pet or providing as much financial security to your loved ones as possible. Depending on your goals, you'll need to turn to certain estate planning vehicles, such as wills and trusts, and customize them so that they further your best interest.

Yet, far too often Californians stop evolving their estate plan once they have a basic will and maybe a simple trust. The truth of the matter is that there is much more that can go into your estate plan to ensure that it is as holistic as possible.

Medical instructions can be key to successful estate planning

A lot of estate planning is focused on the distribution of wealth upon an individual's passing. While this is certainly an important aspect of the estate planning process, it is only a portion of what should be a comprehensive estate planning approach.

Another critical piece of estate planning involves one's health care, primarily in the event that he or she suddenly becomes incapacitated. In these instances, an individual will be unable to make decisions, which is why he or she may want to name someone to make those decisions on his or her behalf, or lay out special instructions about the type of medical care he or she wants to receive.

Things to consider even after an estate plan is created

To some, creating an estate plan seems like a monumental task. Even after they get over the fact of having to consider their own mortality, many Californians struggle to decide how to distribute their assets.

While a competent estate planning attorney can help these individuals create and effectively utilize estate planning tools likes wills and trusts, this is not the end of estate planning. Sure, an individual should feel a certain amount of relief and accomplishment once a plan is finalized, but in order to bring his or her vision for the future into reality, he or she will have to diligently reassess his or her estate plan when needed.

Effective trusts require a keen legal eye

Recently on the blog we discussed spendthrift trusts and how they can fit into your estate plan. This type of trust isn't right for everyone, though.

Yet, those seeking to create an estate plan shouldn't write off trusts altogether just because a spendthrift trust doesn't meet their needs. Instead, these individuals should carefully consider whether other trusts can help further the goals they have for their estate and their loved ones.

Digital wills may cause estate planning headaches

It seems like nearly every aspect of our lives is becoming digitized. Estate planning may be no different. In fact, some states are even making it legal to create electronic wills. Although it may sound like this process is convenient, it can actually present significant problems.

This is especially true for older individuals. While millennials may not see anything wrong with digitizing wills, older individuals are much more open to undue influence and coercion. These types of wrongdoing may be difficult to catch in the digital world. This means that an individual's wishes for his or her estate may not be brought into the light and those who wish to contest a will may have more difficulty proving either the intent of the will's creator or the wrongdoing of the person trying to influence him or her.

Is a spendthrift trust right for your estate?

Estate planning can serve many purposes. In most cases, though, those who engage in estate planning simply want to provide for their loved ones as much as possible. Fortunately, there are many estate planning tools that can help further that goal. But estate planners need to be careful in which approach they take so that their estate doesn't end up being squandered.

This especially arises in the context of spendthrift trusts. This type of trust allows a named beneficiary to receive distributions from a trust but only in amounts and frequencies specified by the trust document. This can allow trust funds to stretch further, and those assets remaining under the trust are protected from creditors until those funds are dispersed.

Dealing with retirement accounts during estate planning

Many people have retirement accounts and other investments, as well as Social Security benefits that they have worked hard to earn and build. Although these individuals hope to take advantage of these resources when the time comes, they don't always live long enough to do so. In those instances, major questions can be raised about how those assets will be distributed. Without an effective estate plan, those financial resources may be passed down to someone who doesn't deserve them.

So what can be done to ensure your retirement accounts are directed to an individual of your choosing? The best way is to simply list that identified person as your beneficiary. By doing so, the asset bypasses the probate process and is quickly accessible to the beneficiary. It is worth noting, though, that some retirement accounts, like a 401(k), require you to list your spouse as a beneficiary unless there is a written agreement stating otherwise.

Why should I create a will?

Have you been putting off estate planning? If so, you're not alone. Many Californians struggle to get around to dealing with estate planning.

Although many of these individuals view the process almost like a chore, the fact of the matter is that estate planning is crucial to your family's financial well-being. Estate planning doesn't have to be extraordinarily complex, either. In fact, in some instances, a will is enough to appropriately deal with an estate's assets.

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.

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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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