Our California readers may have read about what initially appeared to be an imminent and vicious court battle between the wife of deceased painter Thomas Kinkade and the woman who was his live-in girlfriend at the time of his death. Kinkade, whose paintings and licensing netted him millions of dollars, had not divorced his estranged wife, but also allegedly left most of his estate to his girlfriend in the form of two hand-scrawled wills of controversial origin.
Californians may have seen that deceased pop star Whitney Houston's estate has finally been settled. Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of Whitney Houston and singer Bobby Brown, will receive three sizeable installments from the estate as she hits certain age milestones.
Californians may be interested by a recent New York Times piece on the predicament of parents and children who have experienced the turmoil of inheriting a large sum of money. While this certainly seems like a very fortunate problem to have, some heirs have claimed that the lack of communication regarding a potential inheritance has left them ill-equipped to handle the responsibility and burdensome expectations that may accompany that money, with the consequences being irresponsible financial management and family discord. Proper estate planning may be the answer, but there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to familial communication.
During an economic downturn, people look for ways to save money. Sometimes the less expensive option turns out to cost more in the end. One technique of conserving cash that may lead to costly mistakes is pursuing the do-it-yourself approach instead of hiring professionals. This is especially true in legal areas, such as when people draft a will.
In drafting an estate plan, people must give rational and careful thought to how they want their property distributed. Then they must account for the effect that applicable laws and rules will have on that plan. Fortunately, an estate plan can be closely tailored to comply with the laws and fulfill a person's intent.
Many California residents have prized personal possessions. These can include pieces from a hobby collection, such as antique china, coins or cars. Other items may have been handed down through family generations, such as a grandfather clock, a jewelry set or artwork. While some of these objects may have substantial monetary value, they likely also have a great deal of value for reasons personal to the owner.
California is known for its host of stars in film and music. During the last number of years, few musicians' stars burned as brightly or as briefly as Amy Winehouse's. The British singer, known for her soulful voice, won a number of Grammy Awards before dying last year at the age of 27. Some had speculated about the details of her estate. Those details have now been made public, revealing who will inherit her property and assets.
The first wave of the Baby Boomer generation has only recently reached the traditional retirement age of 65. Their parents, the generation that was steeled by the Great Depression and fought in World War II and Korea, are in their 80s and 90s. Each generation has faced its particular obstacles, but they are united in the challenge they currently confront: how to create an effective estate plan.
Most people recognize the need for an estate plan, but as we have mentioned before, few people create one until the last minute, if at all. Perhaps you have thought about an estate plan and even executed a will, designating where and to whom your property will go after your death. Maybe the plan includes more sophisticated estate planning instruments, such as a trust. But does it include a living will?
Last week we discussed the importance of being proactive in developing a California estate plan to ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event of a sudden illness or accident. But that is merely the first step in the process. Executing a will and then placing it in a safety deposit box to accumulate dust is not a strong estate plan.