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Torrance California Estate Planning Law Blog

How will probate affect my family?

No one enjoys thinking about what will happen in the event they pass away. Death can be a scary thought and it’s emotionally painful to consider how loved ones will be impacted by the loss.

While it is difficult to think about, it is just as hard for your loved ones to be left to cope with grief and endure a complicated division of your estate. When there is no plan in place or a plan isn’t detailed enough, it can eventually lead to probate.

Different types of trusts serve different estate planning needs

A trust is an important estate planning tool that California residents may use to protect their assets and wealth and preserve them for the benefit of their loved ones once the estate planner has passed on. However, there are many different kinds of trusts that individuals may establish. Different trust formats can accomplish different estate planning goals and may serve the diverse needs of California residents.

For example, previous posts here have discussed the differences that exist between revocable and irrevocable trusts. While a revocable trust may be changed or canceled by the person who makes it, an irrevocable trust cannot be undone once it is created. Estate planners may want to discuss how these important tools could help them meet their end-of-life financial goals.

3 common mistakes that may delay the probate process

Creating a will is an important step in planning for the future of your estate and family after you’re gone. A well-crafted, comprehensive estate plan can take time and expertise to complete, but it’s worth the effort to mitigate the chances of a complicated, divisive probate process.

Poorly written or out-of-date wills can present any number of issues during a probate process. Beneficiaries are already struggling to grieve the loss of a loved one which means tensions are high and emotions are at the forefront for many involved in executing a will. To lessen the likelihood of a litigious probate process, keep in mind some common errors in estate planning and work to avoid these pitfalls.

What can be accomplished with a living will?

There is no question that making major decisions about one's own health can be difficult and can require a significant amount of consideration. California residents may struggle to decide just how much support they want from doctors and nurses if they need to be hospitalized and may not be able to communicate their own wishes. However, once they have plans for how they want their care managed, they may want to take proactive steps to ensure that those plans are followed.

These plans can be recorded in the individual's advance health care directive. This estate planning tool directs medical care providers on how the individual wants to be cared for in the unfortunate event that they lose their capacity to communicate. In situations in which patients are in comas or otherwise incapacitated, advance health care directives can be imperative to ensuring they are treated in accordance with their wishes.

The role of mental capacity in the preparation of a will

Readers of this California estate planning blog may be familiar with the purpose of a will. Generally, a will is a testamentary device that puts into words a person's wishes for how their property and assets will be passed on to others when they die. For example, through a will a person may bequeath their jewelry to their daughter, their fishing gear to their son and their vacation home to their sibling.

There are several requirements that must be fulfilled for a will to be considered valid. These requirements are in place to ensure that fraud and duress do not influence the terms that individuals put into their estate planning tools. One of the requirements that must be in place for a will to be considered valid is the demonstrated mental capacity of the person who is making their will.

Estate planning attorneys provide peace of mind

Although the conversation may prove difficult, preparing your assets for your loved ones before your death constitutes a responsible decision. Working with an attorney to draft documents for property distribution and healthcare beneficiaries describes a rewarding one.

When elderly adults decide that estate planning proves valuable for their future and their family members’ futures, an attorney’s help is extremely important. You want to be sure that you sign all required documents, no loose ends exist, and your health and property lie in the right hands should you pass away.

How to protect your child’s inheritance from divorce

Almost half of all married couples end up divorced in America. Parents hope that their children will not face the financial and emotional toll of divorce, but the chances of it happening are great. If your child goes through divorce in the future, their assets will be subject to division.

You want your legacy to be passed on to your children after you are no longer here, not split in a divorce. Under California law, only community property can be divided in divorce. That means that separate property, or property obtained outside of the marriage, will be safe in divorce. Separate property includes gifts and inheritance. While this may appear straightforward, issues will arise if your child does not handle the funds properly.

What is a revocable living trust?

A living trust is given the designation of "living" because it is created while the trust creator is alive. Living trusts begin before death, they may be used during the creator's lifetime to manage their assets and establish inheritance plans for how the trust assets will be distributed at the time of the creator's death.

A person may create a living trust by placing items of real and personal property into it during their life. The creator may serve as the trustee of the living trust, which means that they may manage its operations and decide how the trust will be administered. Since a person may want to change their mind regarding what is contained in a trust and how it is organized, they may designate it as a "revocable" living trust, which means that it can be terminated by the creator.

Preparing for a first meeting with an estate planning attorney

Most people do not like to think about their mortality, so they may put off estate planning. However, an estate plan does more than dictate that your sister gets that oil painting. An estate plan ensures your property is dispersed correctly, your family is taken care of and that your wishes are respected regarding medical care. A properly executed estate plan protects you, your family and your assets. Still, meeting with your estate planning attorney for the first time may provoke feelings of nervousness or anxiety. Understanding the information your attorney will likely need can help you prepare and relieve tension. 

Mine, yours & ours: Estate planning for mixed families

The traditional American family of a mother, a father and several children is slowly disappearing as the standard household in California and other states throughout the nation. As individuals become parents without marriage, divorces separate families and new marriages create new unions, the make-up of families is changing to become more inclusive and representative of how people actually live. With all of these changes, though, planning for the future can become complicated when families blend, separate and reorganize in new groupings.

This is where the help of a dedicated estate planning attorney can be incredibly helpful. Lawyers who understand and respect the realities of mixed and blended families can support their clients to ensure that their estates are organized to ensure that dependents and heirs from different relationships will have the opportunity to benefit from their end-of-life assets.

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