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Torrance California Estate Planning Law Blog

What traits make for a good executor?

During your estate planning, choosing the right executor is a very important and crucial decision. This will be the person you give the responsibility to for administering your estate and finalizing your last wishes. When you pick the right executor, you are ensuring that there is a prompt and sufficient distribution of your property.

After you pass, you should think that the person who you name as executor will be stepping into your shoes to handle the legal tasks that you used to do. This includes paying debts, selling property, and distributing assets. You can see how this can be an important job, so you may be wondering how to go about choosing this person. Here are some factors that can assist you in the decision-making process.

Aretha Franklin left behind a great legacy, but no will.

When Aretha Franklin passed away earlier this year, the world lost one of the most iconic soul singers of our time. The Queen of Soul left behind a long legacy of ground-breaking, awe-inspiring music. What she didn’t leave behind, however, was a will.

Whenever someone passes away intestate—i.e., without a will—it creates considerable room for confusion and disagreement in determining how the deceased’s assets should be divided. The estate administrator must go to great lengths to try to determine the deceased’s wishes. There is also a strong possibility that, without explicit instructions, potential beneficiaries will come clamoring to stake a claim on what they believe to be theirs—resulting in a long legal battle.

Approach of the holidays may prompt estate planning discussions

Not all families in California have the luxury of living near each other and experiencing their loved ones' company throughout the year. As such, some individuals rely on the holidays to meet up with their relatives and to catch up on what has been happening in their lives. The winter holiday season, which is quickly approaching, is a time for family and for fun, but also for planning.

Spending time with family members may prompt our readers to think about the future and what options they have for taking care of their relatives. One of the most effective ways of providing for family members is through the preparation of a legally sound estate plan.

Can you prevent someone from benefitting from your estate?

One of the main reasons that California residents choose to create their own personal estate plans is to take control over how their money and assets are divided and passed out after their deaths. For example, if a person dies without an estate plan in place, their estate may be distributed to their heirs based on the laws of intestacy currently included in the state code. This could mean that an heir that the decedent did not want to collect from their estate could benefit from the decedent's passing.

In order to avoid this, an estate plan can provide an explicit set of instructions for how the estate should be distributed. If the estate creator wants to write one of their non-dependent children out of their estate, then they must make it clear through the wording of their will that they desire to prevent that individual from being a beneficiary at the time of the estate planner's death.

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.

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