Planning for the future is important for everyone, regardless of income level or the size of one's estate. Many people neglect to take formal estate planning steps because they believe that they do not need it, but in reality, it is a necessity in order to protect loved ones from complications and disputes in the future. In California and elsewhere, the beginning of the year is a beneficial time to carefully review estate planning documents or start the planning process.
Having a last will and testament is one of the simplest and most effective ways that a person can protect his or her future. A will can designate a caregiver for a minor child, outline how a person wishes money and assets to be distributed after death, and more. A will should generally reflect current circumstances, and a significant change in finances and property holdings, divorce or remarriage would necessitate updating a will.
If a person dies without an estate plan, it can throw an entire family into turmoil regarding who will get what, estate taxes and more. A verbal agreement or promise regarding the transfer of a piece of property or assets is not enforceable and will not stand up to scrutiny if there are any disputes over the estate. The best way to avoid complications in the future is to take the necessary steps in the present.
Before drafting an estate plan, it is important to first consider one's main objectives. A California lawyer can help outline goals and develop a strategy that includes all of the necessary protections. A complete case evaluation will determine what estate planning steps are necessary according to the details of a specific situation.
Source: hpj.com, "Estate planning is for everyone", Larry Dreiling, Jan. 30, 2017