Most people in California have some awareness of the importance of having an estate plan, in part due to the recent passing of notable people who did not have one and the chaos that resulted around the resolution of their estates. What people may not be aware of is the necessity to include one's digital life in estate assets when creating a comprehensive plan. Digital footprints have grown considerably and failure to incorporate it can cause one's heirs unnecessary angst, inconvenience and possible financial cost.
Estate planning provides the means to provide for the settlement of one's estate once the individual dies. Because family structures have changed considerably over the years, it is worth taking a closer look at what asset distribution can look like when considering one's own family structure. Often the biggest asset a Californian has is real estate. How that property was acquired could impact how it should be handled in regard to one's estate.
Another year is winding down. As the season changes, it is typically a time to review the year almost passed and contemplate the year to come. It is also a good time to take a look at one's estate assets and review plans that are in place or establish a plan if one is not already in place in California.
Once an estate plan is established in California, it is advisable that the documents be reviewed and updated as needed. Such updates would be recommended in the event of a major life event such as the birth of a child, a significant change in finances or a significant change in one's health. A qualified person entrusted with the estate administration can assist with necessary changes.
Americans are living longer and healthier lives. As a result, some families in California neglect to review estate plans or to even establish one in the first place. When a parent becomes ill and death may appear imminent, children may find themselves confronted with questions and issues regarding the transfer of property and other estate administration concerns.
Few things in life are certain, with death and taxes noted as exceptions. Most families in California wish to leave a legacy for their heirs but not all of them successfully prepare for it. Estate planning can alleviate many ill feelings and legal ramifications. Sadly, Aretha Franklin was one who appears to not have adequately prepared, and her family is paying the price through a court fight over her estate assets.
Families in California with considerable assets have multiple options when creating an estate plan. One of these is how Individual Retirement accounts (IRA) allow one to distribute the asset to one's heirs after one's death. The heirs are required to take a minimum distribution from the asset that is based on their life expectancy. A new law being considered, known as the Secure Act, would require that the estate assets held in the retirement account be distributed over 10 years.
People in California who die without an estate plan in place may not have their final wishes carried out as they intended. Aretha Franklin passed away almost a year ago from complications related to pancreatic cancer. At the time of her death in Detroit, it was believed that she had died without leaving a will. That situation would have made asset distribution of her Michigan estate, estimated at over $80 million, very difficult.
The sandwich generation is becoming a very popular term in the 21st century in California and elsewhere in the country. It refers to baby-boomers who are attempting to tend to the needs of adult children, aging parents and their own impending retirement years all at the same time. Needless to say, this generation is spread very thin across these three tasks. One area that may require extra attention is protecting the estate assets of their aging parents.
The new year has begun and it is a time that people often take a measure of their lives and make goals for the coming year. Estate planning can figure into some of these goals. Life changes such as getting married, the birth of a child or starting a new job can inspire a person to write a will in California. But is having a will in place enough to protect one's estate assets?