California estate planning can be a difficult topic to contemplate, let alone discuss with loved ones. Many think that looping beloved family members into the conversation about estate planning can further family transparency and leave everyone feeling better. But, sometimes, communications do not go as planned. When this happens, arguments can ensue and feelings can be hurt. In short, bad communication may throw estate planning off the tracks.
Many people put off estate planning because they are afraid to confront the thought of their own mortality. Next to death, when it comes to aging, people usually fear declining health. Yet, the sad reality is that many Californians will see their health significantly deteriorate as they age. There may even come a point where their medical condition leaves them unable to make important financial and healthcare decisions on their own. Under these circumstances, an individual may be deemed incapacitated, and a guardianship may be created to protect him or her.
Thinking about your own mortality can be frightening. None of us like to think about when our time will come to an end, but it's inevitable, meaning that we all need to have our affairs in order before that time comes. For many people, this means engaging in estate planning to deal with their own finances. Yet, estate planning can be just as powerful when considering the passing of a spouse.
We spend a lot of time on this blog discussing what many consider to be the biggest parts of estate planning. This includes how to utilize wills, trusts and other legal vehicles to protect estate assets and ensure that they are distributed according to an individual's wishes upon his or her death. While these matters are extremely important to address and address correctly, they are not the only matters to consider when creating an estate plan.
Californians who have minimal assets may find the estate planning process to be pretty straightforward and simple. Those who have significant assets, though, may find the matter much more complicated. This can be especially true for those who own a business. Deciding what to do with a small business can be difficult because an individual must consider not only financial ramifications of passing it down to one's heirs, but he or she also has to consider the emotional effect of his or her decision.
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.