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Sacramento Estate Planning Attorney

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Include digital assets in estate plans to avoid confusion

California residents are living more and more of their lives online. Many areas of law have evolved in response to the popularity of online activities. But laws governing what happens to a person's online assets--which can include blogs, email accounts and social media pages--in the event of that person's death are still developing. This lack of definite legal standards may cause problems for heirs.

Estate planners advise taking advantage of gift-tax exemption

Without federal legislative intervention before the New Year, the current generous gift tax exemption of $5.12 million could revert to $1 million. People in Sacramento seeking to pass along their financial assets might want to calculate the effect a vastly reduced exemption threshold could have on their estate plan. Many estate planning advisors are encouraging wealthy clients to take advantage of the current higher limits now in order to avoid unnecessary taxation.

People in California should be aware of effect of estate taxes

A well-worn maxim tells us that death and taxes are the only two things of which we can be certain. Under particular circumstances, we can also be certain that the occurrence of the former will trigger the latter. Everyone should be aware of the estate tax, but especially those whose estates stand to be diminished because they exceed a specified dollar threshold. Proper estate planning can help avoid unnecessary taxation.

California residents should update estate plans as need arises

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.

Estate of Marilyn Monroe's makeup artist to sell off photographs

Marilyn Monroe's life on and off the screen captivated people in California and across the country. Her enduring fame is proved by the recent movie, My Week with Marilyn, which earned lead actress Michelle Williams an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. But other examples of Monroe's continued popularity abound.

Baby Boomers and their parents face estate planning challenges

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.

Consider the estate of affairs in your succession plan, part 2

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.

Soul singer Etta James dies in California hospital

Legendary singer Etta James passed away on January 20, 2012, as she succumbed to complications due to leukemia. The world renowned singer--famous for songs such as "At Last" and "I'd Rather go Blind"--died at a Riverside, California hospital with her husband and two sons at her side.

Consider the estate of affairs in your succession plan, part 1

Some very large estates have been divided in California courts. But sound estate planning is not just for Hollywood millionaires, titans of industry, and masters of the universe. Every person needs to lay out a detailed plan, so that when the time comes to dispose of one's property, the process can be as free from strife and discord as possible. Most importantly, a strong estate plan will most fully effectuate the intent of the person who created it.

Estate taxes may rise in 2013

One of the concerns that California residents have when they do estate planning is the effects of federal taxes on their estate. At the moment, estate taxes have an exemption amount of $5 million with a top marginal rate of 35 percent, but that exemption is set to expire in 2013. If no action is taken by Congress, then the exemption will fall to $1 million and the top marginal rate will rise to 55 percent. So readers of this blog may be particularly interested in a piece of legislation by Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Washington.The bill, called the Sensible Estate Tax Act of 2011, was recently introduced a week before Thanksgiving. If passed, the bill would allow the top marginal tax rate to rise to 55 percent, as it would under current law. However, the bill also proposes that the current exemption amount be allowed to expire, and that the $1 million exemption be indexed for inflation starting in 2000. That would mean the exemption amount would fall from the current $5 million for individuals and $10 million for couples to $1.31 million for individuals and $2.61 million for couples.

My Sacramento law practice, Michael A. Sawamura, Attorney at Law, focuses on wills, trusts and estate planning law in addition to business law and corporate defense services. My clients include professionals, government employees, small businesses, blue-collar workers and national corporations.

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