Throughout life, individuals accumulate wealth in hopes of being able to meet their own needs and desires. If they are lucky, they are able to accomplish this feat and help out others in the process. However, once you pass away, your assets mean nothing to you. However, those who choose to engage in estate planning can better ensure that those who mean the most to them will receive assets that may be helpful to whatever purpose they are trying to attain.
It seems like we were just talking about the passing of pop icon Prince. This music legend left behind millions in assets, some of which were very hard to value, spurring a contentious fight as his estate passed through probate court.
A few weeks ago on the blog we discussed the importance of Medicaid planning when it comes to planning for the potential need for long-term care. Many Californians neglect to address this issue because they simply don't think that they will need long-term care. However, many individuals find themselves inflicted with serious medical conditions that disallow them from taking care of themselves. Although some individuals are able to rely on family and friends for their care, this can prove to either be impossible or overly burdensome. This is where long-term care can come into play.
The purpose of an estate plan is to ensure that property is dispersed in accordance with one's wishes upon death. Most of the time this means that estate property is left to spouses and children, oftentimes with an even split when multiple individuals are involved. However, although that may be the default when it comes to considering estate planning, it is by no means the only way that estate planning can play out.
Previously on this blog we discussed the role of a conservator in California and how he or she can play an important role in estate planning matters. As a quick recap, a conservator is an individual who is appointed by the court to care for an individual's daily care and health needs or the individual's financial matters when that individual is incapable of handling such matters on his or her own.
When most Californians think about estate planning, they think about how money is going to be passed down to their family and friends upon their death. While this is true to a certain extent, estate planning has a much broader reach. For example, estate planning can include how important financial and health care decisions will be made in the event that an individual becomes incapacitated and, as a result, unable to make those decisions on their own.
Estate planning and the various issues that can arise from it can affect people of all walks of life. Although many in California may think that estate planning is mainly meant for the rich, this simply isn't the case. It can be beneficial, however, to look at how estate planning issues affect the wealthy, as it can have direct correlations with the average person.
Those in California who engage in estate planning usually do so for the sole purpose of ensuring that their hard-earned assets are protected and preserved for those who they identify as their heirs and beneficiaries. As we have discussed at length on this blog, there are a number of ways to ensure that one's estate plan is thorough, legally valid and created in a way that allows for distribution of assets in accordance with one's wishes.
No one likes to think about their inevitable mortality. Therefore, it can take a lot of will power and bravery to create an estate plan. Those in California who are able to successfully create a plan may feel like they have achieved something major, which they have, at least to a certain extent. However, estate planning is never truly done. The legal documents through which an estate plan takes shape need revisiting from time-to-time, but even the process through which the plan is discussed with beneficiaries and heirs can have a significant impact on the plan's success.
Planning for your future can be a challenging endeavor. Planning for the future of your estate, then, can seem even more difficult. However, with proper guidance and some motivation, California residents can create an estate plan that works well for them and their loved ones. Assets can be protected, taxes and fees can be minimized or eliminated, and peace of mind can be obtained. Although this planning includes addressing physical assets such as one's home, bank accounts, retirement accounts and vehicles, it also often involves intangible assets, such as social media accounts, cryptocurrency, other digital accounts and even copyrights, trademarks and patents.