Newman Law Group

Lack of a trust can result in probate

One does not need to be a celebrity in California to recognize that if a person has a sizable estate, that person should have an estate plan in place. The plan typically includes a will and appropriate trusts. If trusts are used in place of a will, this may allow the estate to be kept out of probate at the time of the author's passing and allow the details of the estate to remain private.

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, recently passed away and she apparently did not have a will or a trust in place at the time of her passing. The tax implications alone may be very complicated. If her estate exceeds the $11.18 million threshold for a single person, there could be a 40 percent tax due on the estate. An estate plan could have reduced the amount of the tax owed.

Gifting is one method that can be used to reduce an estate tax. Gift amounts per individual up to $15,000 each year are tax free. Charitable giving is another means that can be used. Amounts bequeathed to a charity upon one's death are not included in a person's taxable estate. In the case of Aretha Franklin, if her estate is in largely non-liquid, or in non-cash form, arrangements will need to be made to come up with the amount for any estate tax that may be due, and estate taxes are typically due within nine months of a person's passing.

A person in California with a sizable estate may wish to consult an experienced estate planning attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can assist in creating a comprehensive plan or help in reviewing an existing plan. In some instances, that may prevent the need for probate and allow the proceedings to remain private. In any event, taking such action can help to ensure that one's final wishes are carried out.

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