At this very moment, there are hundreds, even thousands, of individuals throughout California who have been handed the awesome responsibility of administering a substantial estate. For each, there are many ways that even the most well-intentioned executor or administrator can allow things to fall through the cracks.
With a Republican president in the White House next year and a Republican-controlled Congress, some people who have considerable assets to leave to their heirs are hoping that the estate tax (sometimes referred to by those opposed to it as the "death tax") will be repealed.
When you're developing your estate plan, you need to determine what will happen not just to your primary residence but to your vacation home(s). Whether it's a centuries-old house by the ocean that's been in your family for generations or a mountain cabin where you spend Christmas vacations every year, these properties can have not just significant monetary value, but great sentimental value.
Increasingly, more of our financial and social activity is carried out online. This can create a dilemma for surviving family members when someone dies. While people can and should designate an executor for their estate in their will, that designation doesn't give them access to accounts that are strictly online, such as some bank accounts and e-mail accounts.
Family issues and legal issues often intersect. When you have children with special needs, there are even more circumstances to consider than the average family. Most families can discuss how they should deal with unexpected incapacity or the administration of an estate.
Generally, when people think about estate planning and administration, it's in relation to how a person's property, money and other assets are divided up and bequeathed to heirs and other beneficiaries. However, what happens to a person's debts when they die? That generally depends on the type of debt, what state the person lived in and whether or not there is a surviving spouse.
Any person who has administered an estate knows that, even in this digital age, the amount of paperwork can be overwhelming. Once the estate is settled, it can be tempting to shred all of the documents that have been taking up room in your filing cabinets, drawers or wherever you've stashed them. Not so fast.
Most Californians have some familiarity with the Medi-Cal program. It's basically our state's version of Medicaid, and it helps cover low-income Californians' medical care.
Your loved one has passed away. Whether the passing took you by surprise or was expected after a long-term illness, it isn't easy to deal with their loss. When the only thing you want to do is mourn their death and look to the future, you have to think about their estate. You have to think about probate, something that can be very frustrating and confusing, particularly if this is the first time you have had to deal with the issue.
As shocking as the death of music icon Prince last month at 57 years old was to millions of fans around the world, the reports that he seems to have left no will or other estate planning documents are also shocking to many people. Why would a multimillionaire with vast amounts of music that will earn money for years to come not have an estate plan to detail who gets his assets and the rights to his music?