Once upon a time a person could go to school, grow up, work for a company and then retire with a pension. Pensions have, for the most part, given way to 401(k) programs that rely in part on the investment knowledge of the individual. This can make the question of growing and protecting assets a daunting and confusing question for some people in California.
There is one word that frequently comes up in conjunction with creating an estate plan: procrastination. That procrastination can prove to be a fatal mistake. There was another well-known personality in California whose recent death drove that fact home. John Singleton, a well-known filmmaker, passed away at the age of 51 from apparent complications due to a stroke. He had procrastinated estate planning, and this has caused public family disagreements over the filmmaker's estate.
Family structures in California have become more complicated in recent years. With second marriages, children from second marriages and the respective extended families, estate planning needs to take all of these considerations into account. While many aspects of an estate can be affected by family structure, real estate ownership may deserve a little bit of extra attention.
There are many new terms to come out of the millennial generation, as there so often are with new generations. One of these terms is adulting, as in something they do not perceive themselves as being very good at. Estate planning is viewed by many of them as an adulting activity. The truth is that estate planning is indeed a very adult and responsible thing to do in California.
There is no question that the American population is aging. An ever-growing number of baby boomers enter retirement in California every day. In many families, children will take the lead on caring for, or finding care for aging parents. This can include making sure that estate planning documents are in order and up to date. What about the number of people who are aging but don't have children, known as solo agers?
Estate taxes in California can be on the high side, amounting to as much as 13%. Reducing estate taxes is a goal of many people, and they will go to extraordinary lengths to accomplish it. This includes even moving out of state prior to an expected increase in income from an event, such as the sale of a company. A recent Supreme Court decision may provide another way.
People concerned with passing on their assets and belongings after their death, and people who are concerned that the appropriate asset goes to the appropriate heir, tend to be very conscientious when it comes to estate planning in California. In addition to assuring the desired transfer of assets, a plan can also be key in protecting assets to be passed on. A successful strategy for this requires that plans be reviewed once a year or so.
Families are made up of people. People come in all shapes, sizes and personalities, and this can add to family drama and contribute to challenges when it comes to estate planning in California. Most people understand the importance of having a plan in place in this day and age, but they may be reluctant to engage in planning because of the conflicts that may arise. This can be particularly true when sizeable estates are involved.
For a variety of reasons, most people in California and elsewhere do not have a will. Estate planning is a personal and challenging task, so once a will is in place, it may seem like a victory. The testator -- the person who writes the will -- may be surprised to know that a will is a document that requires frequent reviews and revisions. In fact, there are specific times when updating one's will is critical.
Contemplating one's death is not a pastime most people wish to engage in. But failing to contemplate and plan on what happens to the property and people a person cares about in California can have serious unintended consequences. These can be avoided by taking some time to determine one's final wishes through estate planning.