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Why estate planning is crucial if you're in the cannabis business

Marijuana has been legal here in California for medicinal purposes since 2004. At the beginning of this year, its recreational sale and use was legalized. Therefore, many Californians engaged in cannabusiness, who are sometimes known as "ganjapreneurs," have accumulated considerable assets.

However, leaving those assets to family members and other heirs when they die can present some complications that other types of business owners don't face. Californians involved in this business have had to operate under complicated and ever-changing laws and regulations over the past 14 years. Some people involved in the cannabis business haven't kept their earnings in traditional bank accounts.

As one California attorney notes, "There's a good chance that people have more assets than they realize, and creating a trust is critical to avoid the costly, public and painful probate process if you have assets valued at over $150,000 and no plan or a simple will in place." Any estate that exceeds that amount in California is required to go through probate.

The attorney, who has branched out into estate planning from criminal law, says, "If you don't have a plan in place, the State of California has a plan for you, and I can guarantee you it is not a plan you will like." In addition to planning for your death, it's also important to have a plan should you become incapacitated, including a living trust.

As another attorney notes, "The most foundational level of asset protection begins with planning for what will happen to your assets in the event of your incapacity or death because you are 100 percent guaranteed to have one or both of those happen to you."

With a carefully-crafted estate plan, Californians can take steps to avoid or at least minimize the complications involved with probate and ensure that their wishes are carried out when they're no longer around or able to speak for themselves.

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