As we progress through adulthood, our lives tend to get bigger -- more kids, then grandkids, a larger house and more possessions. Then we reach a point where we no longer need that big house and all that stuff. The kids are grown, maybe our spouse is gone (through divorce or death). That's when downsizing becomes an attractive option.
Here in Los Angeles, most of us know somewhere in the back of our minds that our homes could be wiped out in practically the blink of an eye by an earthquake or wildfire. That's happened to many of our friends, family, colleagues and neighbors over the course of the past decades -- most recently in the fires that swept through parts of the state in November. That's why it's essential to store necessary documents -- including our estate plan -- in a safe place so that they'll survive a disaster, even if we don't.
One of the life events that motivates many people to give some thought to estate planning -- at least one element of it -- is having a child. Many parents want to plan for the worst- case scenario that they both die (perhaps in a car or plane crash) and leave their children orphans.
Are you headed for a second marriage? Are you already married for a second time? Do you have children from your first marriage? These are all important questions you will need to answer when putting together your estate plan or modifying your current plan. If you answered yes to these questions, there could be some considerations you missed that will help protect your children.
You don't have to be a billionaire to have foreign assets. Many Americans have property, businesses and other investments in foreign countries. Just as you deal with those assets separately when it comes to paying taxes, you also need to give special consideration to them as you do your estate planning.
It's essential to review your estate plan whenever a significant life event happens to you or someone in your family. You'll want to determine if any modifications are necessary to make sure that your plan reflects your current wishes.
Many baby boomers who are hitting their senior years are divorced, widowed or have remained single their whole lives. A number of them never had children. If you have no heirs, is there any reason to have an estate plan?
California seniors move into assisted living communities for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they just want to be free of responsibilities like home maintenance, cooking and cleaning. Many newly widowed people feel isolated and want the socialization that these communities provide. Some people need a little help with activities of daily life (ADL) like bathing and dressing as they get older.
Sometimes, when developing an estate plan, people choose to place conditions on the money inherited through wills or trusts. The beneficiary must meet what's called a "condition precedent." For example, you may make your grandchild a beneficiary of a trust, but only after they've graduated from college or if they use the money to start a business.
Many people see their estate plan as a means not just to leave money to their grandchildren and others in younger and future generations, but specifically to help them (and their parents) pay for the best possible education they can get. Setting up a trust is a popular way to do that. There's more than one way to set aside money for future educational needs. It's important to choose the one that best meets your family's needs and is fair to everyone.