Thinking about your future means much more than considering what job you want, where you want to live, how many children you will have, where you want to go on vacation and when you will retire. While the information collected from these questions can be helpful when taking steps to protect your future, and estate plan requires an individual to look much deeper at the details of his or her life. Although many residents in California and other states associate estate planning with elderly people, this is a misconception. Additionally, a person does not need to be wealthy to enjoy the benefits of an estate plan.
For Californians who are preparing for the future with an estate plan, the details can sometimes be overwhelming to the point that not even the basics are fully understood. Most everyone will have a grasp as to what a will is and does. Others will know about trusts. But probate can be a matter that is a source of confusion. Knowing what probate is and how to deal with it is an integral part of creating and implementing wise estate plan strategies.
For many California residents, preparing an estate plan can feel like a daunting task. It is understandable. There are a lot of things to consider -- such as what estate planning documents are actually necessary -- and figuring it all out can be overwhelming.
Having an estate plan is a wise choice for Californians whether they have significant assets or their portfolio is one of more modest means. The estate plan can detail how asset distribution will be handled, what the heirs will receive and more. Strategies for a successful completion of an estate plan are extensive, but there are certain basic steps that everyone should take.
People young and old, rich and poor and anywhere in between in California often fail to move forward with organized will planning. Admittedly, it is a difficult issue to come to grips with. Mortality can be hard to accept. However, it can be costly and problematic for loved ones to avoid having an estate plan. Wills are an essential part of that and can head off family disputes over property after a person has died. Understanding what happens if a person dies without a will can be useful to deciding whether to craft one or not.
Drafting estate planning documents is an important part of having the proper plans in place for the future, especially in the event of becoming incapacitated. Many people harbor a fear of what will happen to them and their assets without the protection of certain types of trusts. A living trust is useful in such a circumstance. Knowing its intricacies is integral to deciding if it is the right alternative. A person who is his or her own trustee should have a successor trustee in the event of incapacitation. If there is no living trust, another person would have to manage the assets.
Though you undoubtedly know that having some sort of estate plan benefits you more than having no plan at all, you may also want to ensure that the decisions made relating to your plan work best for your circumstances. Exploring the various documents, tools and other helpful aspects of planning can allow you to understand the different choices you could make to tailor your plan to your specific needs and desires. Of course, you may also want to understand potential mistakes that could impact your plan.
With a California estate plan, there are often questions as to whether it is necessary to go to probate court or if the case can be settled using simplified procedures. This is true when during the estate planning process and after the testator has died. As with most legal issues, this depends on the situation. There are certain factors that will determine the need to head to court. The amount of money that is in the estate, what kind of property there is, and the person or persons who are claiming the property will all factor in.
A frequent estate plan question centers around the difference between wills and trusts. Understanding what a living trust is can help to determine whether this is a document of value to an individual or not.
It is not easy to think about what kind of health care you would want if you are ever incapacitated, but it is a worthwhile effort to make these plans. Failure to have such plans in place could result in others making important, life-altering decisions on your behalf.