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.
Estate planning in California can be complex and tricky in the best of situations but it takes on added gravity when a child with special needs is involved. A couple of different variables come into play when one is protecting assets in the interest of long-term care for a special needs child. There are options that can simplify the situation.
Families can be complicated, particularly extended families and new families. Divorce, re-marriage and children with a second spouse can all serve to complicate family dynamics, which can, in turn, complicate estate planning. Indeed, family conflict was recently cited as one of the three main threats to the success of estate planning in California and the rest of the country. According to the recent survey, the other two are market volatility and tax reform.
Estate planning can be a stressful process. It may be difficult to know where to begin. In addition to facing one's own mortality, creating an estate plan in California can be an emotional experience in deciding who gets what and when. Circumstances that can further complicate all of this include needing to provide for family members with special needs or family members from previous marriages. But deciding to let the task of estate planning wait until a later date may result in the state deciding how your estate is settled.
It's almost mid-February, and perhaps one is sitting back and reflecting on a year that he or she believes is off to a good start in California. The often delayed task of estate planning has been completed. But has it? Has an estate plan actually been created or are there now estate documents where before there were none? And what is the difference?
Preparing one's estate can be a complicated process for many families here in California. An estate owner may have to decide what to do with a family home, certain heirlooms or the savings he or she has accumulated. Others may have to consider the process of how to manage passing down a family business or farm. A recent bill introduced in the senate may change the percentage of estate tax, and supporters claim that it will have a positive effect on those who want to leave their company to their children as part of the estate planning process.
January is coming to an end and it's a time when many people turn their attention from the festivities of the holiday season to the far more serious issue of tax season in California. While tax season and estate planning may not, at first glance, seem closely related, a change in the tax law impacts how one may structure one's estate plan. The estate tax exemption increased dramatically, which affects how much money can be gifted. The new exemption amount is $11.18 million per person.
People in California marry for love, begin families and build futures together. Estate planning is frequently part of that process. While divorce is not the anticipated outcome when a couple marries, a significant percentage of marriages do end in divorce. In that event, an estate plan will need to be revised.
Tis the season of giving in California and asking the perennial question of what gifts to get one's family for the holidays. As the baby boomer generation enters their 60s and 70s, they are seeing their own children become adults. Baby boomers have begun to share their wealth with their children and grandchildren. In so doing, they are concerned that the Millennial and GenX generations are not focused on estate planning.