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Estate Planning Archives

Joan Rivers' state of domicile has big impact on tax burden


Comedy and entertainment pioneer Joan Rivers left a legacy of laughter and success to her family, as evidenced by the $150 million estate she left behind to family and loved ones. What nobody is laughing about, however, is the fact that an apparent ambiguity in her estate planning documents could end up costing her estate millions in state estate taxes, depending on the outcome of the case.

Holidays are a great opportunity to discuss estate plans


Every December, people in California and across the U.S. prepare to gather with friends and family to celebrate the holidays. While most people are focused on catching up with one another and enjoying their time together, it is also a great opportunity to have important discussions with loved ones. People with estate planning issues may want to consider taking some time this holiday season to address their estate plan issues with potential heirs and family members. With the right approach, the holidays can be the perfect time to address this delicate, but important, subject.

Do I need a lawyer to write a will?


As Californians get older and plan for the next phase of their lives, they have lots of things to consider. Not the least of these worries is planning and providing for spouses, children and even grandchildren. Not surprisingly, this gives rise to a whole other list of concerns, including retirement planning, assisted living planning, end of life decisions, asset protection and a host of other financial decisions that must be addressed.

Couples without kids still have major estate planning decisions


Residents in California may have read an interesting editorial article in the Wall Street Journal recently, dealing with the questions that many couples without children face when they're considering their estate plan. Without children, and the possibility of children in the future, some couples might get the false sense of security that their estate plan isn't as urgent, but having an estate plan is just as essential for people with no kids as it is for people with 10 kids.

Basic things to think about when setting up an estate plan


People in California who want to be able to leave a lasting legacy after their death need to have an estate plan. Whether a person has a substantial estate or only a few financial resources, having an estate plan, including a will, trusts, and other necessary legal documents, is the only way that people can ensure their assets are distributed, and their wishes are honored, after their passing. Whether it's setting up an education trust fund for a grandchild or leaving a piece of real estate to a favorite charity, everyone needs an estate plan.

Talking about inheritance still proves difficult


People in California may have seen a recent editorial article in the New York Times about the state of familial relationships and the difficulty of starting conversations about estate planning. Talking about anything related to death can be difficult and uncomfortable, but when it comes to financial planning for families and future heirs, not having the conversation can create a much more uncomfortable, even dangerous, situation down the road.

Actor Hoffman excluded his children from his will


People in California probably remember revered actor Philip Seymour Hoffman for his roles in many of the most acclaimed Hollywood movies of the last decade. Hoffman, who died unexpectedly of a drug overdose in February, 2014, left behind a substantial estate, but the lack of direction for the distribution of this fortune was a matter of concern for friends, family members and other professionals in the field who couldn't fathom how he could leave $35 million unaccounted for.

Big life changes require changes to estate planning


People in California may have seen an interesting editorial article about how certain major, yet common, life changes can impact a person's financial well-being and future plans. This is especially true of people who have recently gone through a divorce. While most people are busy dealing with the emotional and personal fallout of a marital split, they may overlook the important long-term ramifications of a divorce, which could come back to haunt them many years in the future.

Avoiding estate taxes requires early planning


People in California may have seen an interesting financial news editorial in Forbes recently. The article discussed the ways in which estate planning can shield people from unnecessary taxation, but that is really only the beginning of the benefits that an estates and trusts attorney can provide to people with substantial estates and complex estate planning needs.

Estate planning should start early, experts advise


People in California know that millionaires and billionaires are created on a regular basis in the Silicon Valley and across the state. One of the most notable examples is Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook and one of the youngest, richest men in the world. Zuckerberg's success wasn't due to luck, it was the product of a carefully crafted and prepared business strategy. Now that he has more or less entrenched himself as a success in the business world, he has also turned his attention to ensuring success at the next step, estate planning.

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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