Devising a will can either be relatively simple or it can be extraordinarily difficult depending on the circumstances at hand. This can include the number of assets and debts involved, the number of identified heirs and the complexities involved in the way that an individual intends to leave his or her estate via a will. Regardless of how in-depth a will needs to be though, an individual needs to ensure that it is crafted with clarity and thoroughness. Failing to do so could lead to a contested will.
Like a lot of areas of the law, estate planning to some extent has developed its own lingo to describe various rules and concepts quickly and efficiently.
Life is full of changes. Some of them are planned for, but others are unexpected, as is often the case with the birth of a child. Other matters can also seemingly come out of the blue, such as spur-of-the-moment marriage or divorce. While these changes can certainly have a meaningful effect on one's day-to-day life, they can also have long-term consequences. This is especially true when it comes to estate planning. In this context, these changes can affect how assets will be distributed and to whom.
Most Californians think of estate planning as something that is done as they grow older and prepare for the distribution of assets upon their own death. While this is true in many instances, estate planning should actually occur at a much younger age and be modified over time as assets are obtained and relationships change. This is especially true for those with children.
When deciding how you want to distribute your assets upon your passing, you can make the process as simple or as complex as you wish. The key is to utilizing whatever tools and processes make your vision of the future come true. For many Californians, this means creating a simple will to leave assets to those identified loved ones.
Last week on the blog we discussed the tragic passing of Anthony Bourdain and some of the more particular issues he addressed through his will. It highlights an important concept: estate plans can be custom-tailored to meet an individual's desires. This means that if an individual wants to leave assets to particular people or in a particular way, he or she can do so in a way that is legally enforceable. Also, by being clear and thorough in one's estate plan, he or she can avoid confusion and the costly process of probate and probate litigation.
Many people were shocked to hear the news that celebrity travel guru and chef Anthony Bourdain passed away recently. The man, who was open and honest about having to live paycheck-to-paycheck well into his 40s, became famous by exposing the secrets of the kitchen and cultures, thereby allowing many to expand their cultural literacy. While there are certainly lessons to be learned from Bourdain's passing and his legacy, one interesting aspect of his life is the way in which he drafted his estate plan.
Wills can be powerful estate planning tools that can ensure that an individual's estate in California is distributed in accordance with his or her wishes upon death. However, in order for a will to be valid, certain legal requirements must be met. While the vast majority of wills meet these requirements, there are some instances when a wills validity can be called into question. However, when a will's legality is at issue, only certain parties can formally challenge it.
Taking even the most basic steps can be huge when it comes to estate planning. After all, this often means that an individual in California is prepared to confront the reality of his or her mortality with an eye on the futures of those he or she loves. While estate planning should occur early in an individual's life, it should also occur often. The accumulation of assets, the addition and loss of family members, and personal preferences can change over the years. Any of these changes may justify modification of an estate plan.
Readers of this Sacramento estate planning blog can find a great deal of information about wills on this site. However, one unique will-related topic has not received much attention but deserves a discussion to introduce readers to its interesting legal significance. That topic is the joint will, and the remainder of this post will offer an explanation of what a joint will is and why it may not serve the interests of those who create them.