Sacramento Estate Planning Blog

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.

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.

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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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