No one wants to imagine the day when they can no longer make decisions for themselves. While many Californians envision that this moment will not take place until many years into the future, the truth is that it only takes an accident or other life-changing incident for a person to lose their capacity to understand how best to meet their own needs.
One of the requirements of a valid will in California is that the creator of the testamentary document is of sound mind when they sign their name to the will and make it official. A person who lacks the mental capacity to understand the terms of their will likely would not have the soundness of mind required by law to execute it, and to this end, if a person does not have a will when they lose their capacity to create one they may not be able to prepare one to protect their estate.
An estate plan is intended to comprehensively dispose of a decedent's property, so that nothing is left over for the probate courts to claim and subject to the laws of distribution. In California and other jurisdictions, though, it is not uncommon for individuals to pass on without putting into place the wills, trusts and other testamentary documents necessary to ensure that the distribution of their wealth and assets is made clear. Because of this, the states of the nation have enacted intestate succession laws that designate how heirs may inherit from the decedents.
Not long ago this Sacramento-based estate planning legal blog discussed the somewhat difficult topic of disinheritance. Through an estate plan a person may explicitly choose to exclude a relation who otherwise may have had a clear right to receive from the individual's end-of-life estate. This challenging theme often comes up when a person would like to prevent one of their children from having a claim to their assets and wealth.
As 2017 draws to its end and 2018 shines on the horizon, Californians may be starting to consider what resolutions they would like to work toward in the New Year. While some may desire to improve their health or get ahead at work, others may make plans to simplify their lives and focus their attention on family and friends. However, few many look far into the future to an eventuality that all people must face: their death.
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.