Avoiding probate has long been an important goal for those preparing an estate plan in California. Probate refers to the process of administering a deceased person's estate through the state court system. In California, the process can take months or even years. It can also be very expensive. Fees for lawyers and executors are based on the size of the estate and can devour a significant portion of the decedent's assets.
For more than two decades Medi-Cal, California's state Medicaid program, has had the right to assert claims against the estates of people who received Medi-Cal benefits when aged 55 or older. Avoiding a Medi-Cal recovery has been a major estate planning priority for many people. This is about to change significantly. Under a new state law, Medi-Cal's recovery rights will be significantly more limited with respect to the estates of people who die on or after January 1, 2017.
When most people think of estate planning they think of preparing a will or trust to direct the distribution of their property upon death. But the estate planning process is also an ideal time to prepare a California Advance Health Care Directive.
When California residents die without a will or trust, their estate is distributed according to California's intestacy laws, without regard to whatever wishes the decedent may have had. If the decedent left a substantial estate, there is also a significant risk of litigation among surviving family members and would-be heirs.
It might not be the easiest thing for people in California to think about, but estate planning is important for the future of their loved ones. It can help the individual with their own piece of mind for the inevitable. Death is a part of life. For many, illness can come before death. Because of that, having a reasonable set of goals for the future with estate planning is a sound method for asset protection. This is true whether it is a substantial estate or one more modest. Everyone has property that they want to go to the people of their choosing. Knowing how to make certain one's wishes are adhered to requires planning.