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Estate planning can help combat tax-related worries

People in California choose to live in the Golden State for many personal and practical reasons. While the quality of life for many here is indeed quite high, Californians pay dearly for these benefits when it comes to taxes. Across the 50 states in the U.S., California has the distinction of having the highest gasoline tax, highest sales tax and highest income tax for high earners. In addition to those staggering figures, California has the nation's highest energy costs, and housing in California is 2.7 times more expensive than in Texas, which can put an even bigger dent into residents' bottom lines at the end of the day.

Making estate planning a family affair

Many people in California have concerns about wills, estates and trusts but often feel they are too busy to do anything about it. After all, most people don't reach a level of financial success and responsibility by spending too much idle time. It is also common for people, to make another serious mistake when it comes to estate planning: They don't spend enough time discussing their estate plan with their heirs and loved ones.

State laws can have serious implications for trust taxation

People in California and readers of the blog know that there are a number of tools available to estate planners looking to maximize their assets for the good of their heirs or favorite charities. However, what many people do not realize is that state laws can have serious estate planning implications, especially when state tax agencies come to exact their pound of flesh.

Sixteenth Amendment reaches 100th birthday

Readers of this blog may have seen the recent piece about Phil Mickelson's frustration with the California state income tax. He's certainly not the only one complaining, as income taxes have steadily increased over the last several years and certainly seem likely to continue to grow in the foreseeable future. Death and taxes, the two things that are inevitable in this life, as the saying goes, also are the two things that make having an estate plan absolutely essential for people looking to protect their assets and avoid unnecessary taxation.

Estate planning crucial when facing higher taxes

California sports hero and worldwide golf superstar Phil Mickelson had some choice words about the new state and federal income tax rates he, as one of the highest-paid athletes in the world, will be forced to pay as a California resident. That is, if he remains in California at all. Mickelson has expressed his frustration with the increase in the state income tax, as he recently saw his tax rate increase from 10 percent to 13 percent.

Estate planning helps Californians deal with state taxes increase

High-income Californians may have expected a modest tax increase this year but that does not mean anyone is excited about having to pay up to 3 percent more in income taxes this year. While dependent exemptions went up a paltry $6 per child, people making over $250,000 this year will likely pay thousands more in taxes than in past years. Fortunately, prudent wealth managers know that savvy estate planning can save a person untold amounts in unnecessary taxation over their lives and the lives of their heirs.

Domestic partnership laws might gain clarity in 2013

Last month the U.S. Supreme Court decided that it will hear two cases dealing with same-sex couples and the discrimination they have encountered under federal and California laws. The Supreme Court will hear the cases in March and may have a decision sometime around the middle of summer.

2013 tax considerations for California estate planning

Californians may have seen a recent financial news article about the new taxes from the Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare, that are scheduled to go into effect at the beginning of 2013. In particular, people need to pay attention to a new 3.8% investment income tax increase, which may change the estate planning needs of people looking to avoid unnecessary taxation.

Estate planning in the face of a divorce

Californians may have seen a recent article that discussed the financial implications of divorce, especially for women. Whether male or female, divorce usually constitutes a major life shift, and though there are plenty of considerations one has to take into account during this time, there may be no more important objective than maintaining financial well being.

Supreme Court rulings could impact California same-sex couples

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.

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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