Almost everyone understands that writing a will and establishing an estate plan are matters of practical necessity. However, taking your first steps toward preserving a legacy is often the most difficult. Far too many Americans, including many retirees, never put their wishes on paper—inadvertently risking their heirs’ inheritances and leaving their life’s work to the mercy of a California probate court.
Even if you are already in your 60s, it is never too late to get started on an estate plan. The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. has spent decades helping people in the Golden State gain peace of mind. We can help you make an estate plan that suits your needs, preserves your beliefs, and helps protect your family from life’s many uncertainties.
No Matter Your Age, You Need an Estate Plan
Making mistakes in estate planning is easy—and one of the most common is believing that it is too late to start establishing a legacy. Many older adults know how they want their assets distributed and who they want as heirs, but they’ve neglected to take the first step to ensure their legacy goes to the people they love.
Even if you’re in your 60s or 70s, delaying the process of estate planning could prove disastrous. If you do not already have an estate plan or you have one that needs revising, you may end up leaving your legacy in the hands of a California probate court. This is because the estates of people who have died without wills are, under Golden State law, subject to the rules of intestate succession.
In an intestate succession, the probate court is bound by a strict set of rules. These rules govern inheritances, and they almost always privilege close blood relations, often to the detriment of other intended heirs.
Establishing an Estate Plan: Take Your First Steps
Every estate plan is a reflection of a unique life lived—of your relationships, your aspirations, and the legacy you intend to leave behind. However, life rarely goes as expected. Personal tragedies, illnesses, and diseases can compromise an existing estate plan or complicate the process of finally putting one together. If you are now in your 60s, you may need to consider:
Creating an Estate Plan Now
Your estate plan can do more than help you make inheritance decisions. It could also protect your interests in the event that you are ever incapacitated or suffer cognitive decline.
While every estate plan is different, yours should include the following documents:
- A last will and testament
- Approved beneficiary designations
- An advance health care directive
- Durable powers of attorney
- A personal letter of intent
Depending on your own aspirations, you may also benefit from the formation of a revocable living trust. A trust, a type of legal entity capable of receiving and managing assets, can be used to bypass probate in its entirety, letting heirs receive their inheritances without the need to go to court.
Revising an Existing Estate Plan
Even if you already have an existing estate plan, you may need to update it. This is especially true if your last will was written decades earlier or if you have not revised your beneficiary designations after re-marrying.
You may need to review your estate plan if any of the following conditions exist:
- You married or re-married since writing your first will
- You have been divorced
- You have had a child or more children
- Your legal, health, or financial circumstances have changed significantly
- It has been a long time since you last looked at your estate plan
The Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, Inc. is committed to helping Californians find the estate planning solutions that work best for them. We could help you create an estate plan or work through one that is no longer capable of honoring your intent.