A third of all people over 50 who break a hip die within the following year. That's a frightening statistic. Even if you're among the two-thirds who don't suffer this fate, your overall health can take a turn for the worse after a serious accident or injury in your senior years -- even if you don't get cancer or any number of debilitating illnesses that can strike people as they get older.
Millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide are celebrating Pride Month along with their supportive friends and family. Too many, however, have become estranged from some family members -- and sometimes from their entire family -- because of who they are.
Many Californians make a revocable living trust the centerpiece of their estate plan. It allows them to maintain control over their assets while they're alive and well. Then the assets are transferred to their designated heirs and beneficiaries upon their death.
Many Californians are single parents raising young children. In some cases, the other parent has passed away. Maybe the other parent has no custody rights. Perhaps they've chosen to have or adopt a child on their own.
Many people who are creating their estate plans believe that they've given their children every advantage in life to become successful, financially independent adults. Instead of leaving them a substantial amount of money or other assets when they die, they prefer to leave the bulk of their wealth to various worthwhile charities. They may even want to set up a scholarship fund to help students at their alma mater pay their educational expenses.
If your family doesn't involve a spouse of the opposite sex and a couple of kids that you had together, you're not alone. Family dynamics have evolved considerably in recent decades. The term "modern family" has largely replaced "traditional family." A family can easily be comprised of an unmarried couple (of the opposite sex or the same sex), a single parent, grandparents raising their grandchildren, stepparents and stepchildren and other variations.
Some important aspects of estate planning are done outside of "traditional" estate planning documents like wills and trusts. One of these involves something called the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA). Each state has its own UTMA. In California, it's called the California Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (CUTMA).
Many people think that they have no need for a trust in their estate plan unless they have millions of dollars in assets to pass on to their heirs and other beneficiaries. In fact, you can set up a revocable living trust even if your assets total far less than that. There are many good reasons for doing so.
For estate planning purposes, it is important to keep track of the loans and financial gifts that you give to your children while you're still alive. Do they count as an advance on that child's inheritance or not?
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.