Readers of the blog here in California may have noticed some entries regarding the growing concern about what happens to a person's online digital content after they die. Most people in the digital age have at least some measure of information online, which may include things like social media accounts, picture-sharing programs and even things like online accounts with certain financial and retail entities.
A couple from Redlands, California, recently made an interesting discovery about the marriage that they thought they had shared for nearly half a century. As the two were preparing their wills and collecting estate planning documents, they could not find their marriage license from their nuptials in 1964. After contacting the county for a copy, they realized that the pastor who conducted the wedding had never filed the license with the county office, meaning that the two had never actually been legally married.
California has been no stranger to the controversy surrounding same-sex marriage and the courts continue to struggle to make sense of the situation. Some much-needed guidance on legal issues related to same-sex marriage may be on the horizon, as the United States Supreme Court convenes this month to decide which of five cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act it will hear in the coming year.
One of the major differences between President Obama and Mitt Romney was their opinions on how to handle taxation of the middle and upper class. Obama favors an increased tax rate for the wealthiest Americans, and not surprisingly, Democrat-dominated California voted to increase the state tax rate on earners in the higher tax brackets. People earning between $250,000 and $300,000 will now pay 10.3 percent in state income tax. Those earning $1 million and more will now pay 13.3 percent, which is a 3 percent increase.
Proper estate planning is very important for California families, as even when a trust is set up while an individual is still alive, legal matters can still arise. The heirs to a California winery are learning this after winding up in court over matters related to trust administration of the family winery. The family has settled the legal dispute, but there may be emotional scars left on the family for some time.The matter involves the Foppiano wine family from Healdsburg. The winery was family-founded and has been in operation since 1896. The 101-year-old father passed control of the winery to his son in 2005, and named both children as co-trustees in 2009.
Even those California residents who are young and healthy may benefit from estate planning. A good estate plan will maximize the size of the estate while minimizing the potential tax consequences for one's heirs. Moreover, proper estate planning will reduce the need for litigation and help the estate to escape the probate process as much as possible.