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When considering estate planning, think of family

The focus of estate planning is often about what will happen to a person's assets after he or she has passed away. Although this is a reasonable focus for estate planning, some people in California still continue to shirk the process on the basis that they simply do not care what happens to their possessions after they are no longer alive. While this course of thinking might be somewhat understandable, it does not give adequate regard to grieving family members who will be left behind to handle the estate administration process with no input or guidance.

Probate can be both a simple and yet highly complicated process. While state laws exist for what should happen to a person's belongings should they die without a will, the ownership of these assets must first revert to the courts in order to determine exactly who is entitled to what. This process can get messy when family members have dissenting views about the court's decision or when children lose their inheritance to a step parent.

A simple and straightforward will can help prevent such disasters from happening in the first place. For those who want to take it a step beyond simply avoiding messy arguments during probate, there are still more options to be utilized. Many potential tax burdens can be avoided entirely through the use of trusts, which also circumvent the probate process in most cases.

While a person might not care much about their possessions and assets after death, most people in California do not want their families going to war in that situation. Contrary to popular belief, estate planning does not have to be an elaborate or drawn out process in order to be effective. Both wills and trusts can be surprisingly easy to establish and can be invaluable upon a person's death.

Source: agrinews-pubs.com, "Estate planning can lessen grief for survivors", Karen Binder, Dec. 31, 2015

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