Last month the estate proceedings in the case of a murdered Silicon Valley mogul took another interesting twist, when the man's lover filed a petition seeking half of his estate. The Silicon Valley man was killed during a vicious home invasion last November, during which money and valuables were stolen and his wife was brutally beaten.
California residents may have seen the recent headlines about the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, and the turmoil surrounding his substantial estate since his death in 2006. Brown died at the age of 73 and left behind an estate purportedly worth anywhere between $5 million and $100 million. Up until late last month, his estate was the subject of numerous legal challenges from family members and people claiming to be family, but a court ruling may have finally settled the issue for good.
Many people seem to believe that the term "estate planning" doesn't apply to them. To those people, only the rich and famous need to worry about intricacies of estate planning, because only they have estates worth making a plan for. That's simply not true. Average Americans from California to New York can profit by thinking ahead toward avoiding probate. One way to do that is to establish a trust.
Estate planning is critical, even though we often make excuses for avoiding it. Making decisions about how worldly possessions will be distributed upon one's death is part of the process, but it's not the only part that should be involved in estate planning for California residents. It is also critical to make decisions regarding personal care should one become incapacitated due to illness or injury.
When someone with special needs receives an inheritance or a personal injury award, they may no longer be eligible for needs based government benefits. However, this type of one-time windfall can be put into a trust for the recipient's benefit so they can continue receiving their government benefit. This is called a "special needs trust" (SNT), and it is an important part of estate planning for California residents with special needs.
It goes without saying that a person's whose finances remain fixated 'in the red' may more than likely leave an estate that reflects the same. While residents here in California all hope to live in a debt-free environment that allows our primary focus to be on asset protection, the reality of day-to-day living for most people means financial obligations in the form of mortgage payments, car loans and credit cards. Given our current economy, there may be many individuals finding it difficult to manage their finances and ensure that all financial obligations are met in a timely and comprehensive fashion. Doing so usually requires some degree of financial planning whether you live in California or somewhere else in the United States.