Often when considering the benefits of estate planning Californians think about the importance of having plans in place for the disposition of their property upon their deaths. However, there is a particular estate planning tool that individuals can forget about that serves them during the critical periods of time when they are still alive but mentally or physically unable to make decisions for themselves.
Just recently President Donald Trump announced that his administration intends to impose sweeping changes to the tax structure of the federal government. One of those changes would involve ending the estate tax, which many readers of this California estate planning blog may know as the "death tax." Most individuals have an unfavorable view of this tax due to its potential to double-tax assets and income that likely were already subject to taxation at earlier points in time.
Readers of this California estate planning legal blog have probably heard that Hugh Hefner, founder of the Playboy Magazine empire, passed away at the age of 91. At the time of his death, Hefner was survived by his third wife and four children from previous relationships.
When a Sacramento resident takes their first steps toward preparing a personal estate plan they may be eager to get all of their ideas down on paper and to ensure their loved ones receive the bulk of their wealth when they pass on. While the drafting of estate planning documents is a critical component in the process, it can be very helpful to both individuals who desire to create estate plans and their estate planning attorneys to begin inventorying important information before document drafting begins.
No one knows when they will pass on from this life. A California resident may experience health and wellness for years before suffering life-ending injuries in an unexpected accident. Another person may languish in life with serious illnesses and ailments, overcoming death at various points throughout their treatment and living longer than any medical professional might expect.
Californians make plans about practically everything. They may plan their weeks to accommodate their work, family and social commitments. They may make plans for their meals so that they know they will be able to feed their families even when they are incredibly busy. They may even plan when they will go to bed, so as to maximize the time they have available during the days and to provide themselves with proper rest.
The last thing on anyone's mind as they go through their day to day activities is their own death. But as we know from the wise words of one of our founding fathers Benjamin Franklin, there are but two certainties in life, death and taxes, and it is important to recognize and address both.
While most Americans are graced with families and friends, there are still some out there who, for whatever reason, do not have a large number of people at their side toward the end of their life. Maybe they had a small family to begin with and they just outlived them, maybe they had a falling out with their family, maybe they were just less social.
California has long been one of the more progressive states when it comes to marriage equality. The increased acceptance of same-sex unions has allowed many couples to prepare for the future with their estate plan. However, that does not alter the reality that there can be complications with a same-sex relationship. There are certain factors that should be remembered with such complicated estate planning.
Estate planning in California will have multiple issues that must be accounted for, but one that is a frequent cause for concern is guardianship. There are two kinds of probate guardianship in California and these must be understood by those who are concerned about a loved one after death. When drafting estate planning documents, it is essential to know whether there should be a guardianship and which kind is applicable if one is needed.