The majority of American's die today with no Will, Trust or estate plan whatsoever. An "estate plan" should include at least a Will and durable powers of attorney for both financial purposes and an Advance Health Care Directive. The Will should include your preferences for the Guardians of your minor children. A Trust may also be an important part of the estate plan.
An estate plan is essentially a written plan for the disposition of your assets at death. An estate plan should also provide for your care in the event that you are sick or are otherwise unable to act on your own behalf.
An estate plan is particularly important for parents. Planning is needed to provide for the care of your children. Without an estate plan, California law will govern the disposition of your estate. Today's family dynamics are more complicated than ever. Many families include step-children, unmarried partners or other nontraditional members. Children may have special needs that need to be addressed. California law does not provide the best solution to those issues.
The absence of an estate plan also guarantees that your estate may be subject to probate if title to your home or other assets is in your name. Probate may result in additional costs which reduces the amount available for the care of your children. Probate also may delay the ability for the surviving family members to distribute assets for the benefit of your family. The absence of an estate plan may result in your children receiving their entire inheritance at the age of 18. Most 18 year olds are not yet financially mature and not ready to wisely spend and invest funds for the long-term. An inheritance at that age makes the child less likely to go to college or otherwise succeed.
California law provides that all community property is first transferred to or inherited by the surviving spouse. On the surviving spouses death, the assets are distributed to the children. This distribution pattern may result in higher estate tax and led to the development of the AB or marital trust.
Each parent should have a plan in place to provide for their family. If you own a home or business, or have significant assets, you should consider whether a revocable trust is appropriate.
If you are currently a client with us, we provide a free Successor Trustee webinar for your trustee to learn everything they need to know about being your trustee. Please click here for our current Successor Trustee webinar dates.
The information in this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. This article is for informational purposes only and may or may not apply to you. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your particular circumstances. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.