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Sacramento Estate Planning Attorney

Estate Planning Archives

Dying without an estate plan can lead to family strife

In California, when someone dies without a will or trust their property is distributed according to the state's intestacy laws. If there is a surviving spouse, it all goes to him or her. If not, it goes to children in equal shares, with the share of any deceased child going to their children. If there are no children, the estate goes to parents, then to siblings and then to more distant relatives, in that order. Thus, a person who dies without a will or trust runs the risk that their assets will go to people they wouldn't have chosen themselves, including relatives to whom they haven't spoken in decades.

Estate planning is about more than preparing for death

Many people in California postpone estate planning for the simple reason that they don't like to think about their own mortality. That is very human and totally understandable. Yet it is important to keep in mind that a solid estate plan is about much more than giving instructions for the distribution of property after death. A good estate plan will also includes important planning for one's own lifetime.

Whether Prince had an estate plan is unknown

The death of music legend Prince at the age of 57 earlier this month took many people in California and around the world by surprise. Another surprise may be in store for his family members: at the time this post was prepared, it was still unclear whether he left a will. His sister filed papers in court recently stating the musician had no known will and requesting that a special administrator be appointed to oversee his estate.

How should an estate plan deal with sentimental property?

In last week's post we talked about the importance of providing instructions for the disposition of family heirlooms and other tangible personal property in one's estate plan. These items often have little or no monetary value but a lot of sentimental value. Fortunately, California's Probate Code provides a relatively easy way to identify who should get these assets.

Income inequality and estate planning in California

Income inequality has become a major topic of political discussion in California and across the United States. Over the past couple of years, the media has published countless articles about the amount of wealth controlled by a small percentage of Americans. And, in this presidential election year, one candidate has staked his campaign on the issue: Bernie Sanders.

How can capital gains taxes affect estate planning?

Avoiding unnecessary taxation has long been one of the primary goals of drafting an estate plan for California residents. As we noted in a recent post, the federal gift and estate tax exemption will increase to $5.45 million on January 1, continuing an upward trend that began about a decade ago. As a result of the relatively high gift and estate tax exclusion, estate taxes are not a major concern for a large number of people.

Why consult an estate planning attorney?

The primary reason to prepare an estate plan is to ensure that your assets are passed on to those you want to receive them. If you die without a will or trust in California, your estate will be distributed according to the state's intestacy laws. Our law firm understands that this could result in an unwanted situation because this could mean your assets end up going to distant and possibly unknown relatives, rather than the people you would have chosen.

2016 is a good year to prepare an estate plan

Many individuals in Northern California have been meaning to get around to estate planning for some time. Some people may make it their New Year's resolution to prepare an estate plan in 2016. Preparing an estate plan is extremely important for those who wish to avoid probate and have their assets distributed according to their wishes. For those who plan to prepare an estate plan in 2016, there are a few things of which to be aware.

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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