Another high-profile death has occurred and may serve as an alert to the public for not only the need for an estate plan in California, but also the need to keep such a plan current. Failure to update wills and other documents can have unintended consequences. John Singleton, a film director best known for directing the movie "Boyz n the Hood" died recently due to complications following a stroke. He was only 51.
It is impossible to predict the future, but there are certain steps a person can take to have legal and financial protections in place. Through wills and other estate planning documents, a person can outline wishes, plan for future medical needs and even make plans to care for loved ones. No two estate plans are the same, and women sometimes have different needs than men.
Few things in life are certain. An old adage states that there are only two things in life one can be sure of, death and taxes. That statement is certainly true and one more that can be added is that one's wealth and property cannot accompany one to whatever an afterlife brings in California. Having a will or a trust can protect one's wealth and property left behind from undue taxes and ensure that one's heirs receive bequests as stipulated.
So the New Year has passed, the parties are over and planning for all of those resolutions are well under way. One resolution many people make in California is to review their wills or to create one if it does not already exist. Life changes, such as the birth of a child, can cause a person to create a will. But what about the couple without children? Is a will really needed in that instance?
Family structure has changed over the years in California. Divorces and second marriages have made stepfamilies commonplace. Multiple divorces can add complications to the situation where estate planning is concerned. Subsequent divorces can create a scenario where former stepchildren are now involved. Wills need to be periodically reviewed and amended to reflect family changes and clarify bequests.
Mortality is a fact of life, and no one in California will live forever. While this is an accepted fact, younger people tend to focus less on their mortality than those who may be middle aged or older. There is a certain feeling of perpetual immortality among the young. Sadly, this feeling has been dealt a mortal blow in the recent shootings at a concert in Las Vegas and a night club and high school in Florida, to name just a few of the mass shootings that have taken too many young lives. Many of those who lost their lives likely had no wills or other estate documents in place.
Today, more and more of one's life is taken up by or expressed on digital devices in California. Television is available on any device and reading an actual hard copy book is becoming less common. People send e-mails and e-cards in lieu of actual cards or letters. In this age of electronics, there is still one document that is best if crafted on actual paper; that is a last will and testament.
It is possible that few in California realize how much contention they create with their estate plans. Leaving behind wills that are poorly considered or do not clearly define the writers' intentions is a recipe for disputes and battles. This may be the opposite of the goals of one's estate plan. However, there are some steps one can take to reduce the possibility that the heirs of the estate will contest the contents of the will.
More and more people are becoming aware of the need to establish an estate plan in California and are taking steps to do so. Establishing an estate plan is very important once a family grows to include children. Having wills enables parents to ensure the continued care of their children should the parents become incapacitated or die prematurely.
More and more people are becoming aware of the need to have an estate plan in place in order to protect their family and ensure that their final wishes are carried out in California. However, a plan can consist of a will, a living will and/or a trust. What should be included, wills or trusts, depends on certain factors.