As a young adult, you have a lot of new responsibilities. You might think that you have everything covered, but have you made an estate plan? An estate plan is an important part of being an adult, especially if you have a spouse and children, because the estate plan lets those who are left behind know what to do with your assets.
Many Californians are permanent legal residents from countries around the world or are married to someone who is. In the tax world, these people are referred to by the rather un-politically correct term "resident aliens." This is an important term to know when you are developing your estate plan and have a large estate because the taxation rules for non-citizens are different than for citizens.
Politics impacts virtually every aspect of our lives, whether we realize it or not. That's because our elected leaders make and sign the laws by which we all are required to live. The new Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress have indicated that there are a number of areas in which they plan to exert their authority in the near future.
Often, when people do their estate planning, they include their grandchildren only as alternative beneficiaries. That means that they receive an inheritance only if their parent (the grandparent's child) dies before the grandparent. Even if someone dies without a will and has no living children, grandchildren will receive the assets that would have gone to those children.
Virtually every adult, no matter how young and healthy, should have a will and possibly other estate planning documents. An estate plan, even a simple one, can save loved ones time, stress and money if something happens to you.
If there's anything that people dread discussing over family holiday get-togethers more than politics, it's financial issues. However, the holiday season brings family members together who rarely if ever see each other during the rest of the year. Therefore, it is practical time to discuss serious matters like estate plans.
Many Los Angeles area families have a vacation home. It may be a getaway cottage in Big Sur or a place farther north in Napa or Sonoma wine county. Regardless of the location, when people draft their estate plan, they generally leave the property to their children.
When people remarry, they often rewrite their wills to ensure that their new spouses are covered. Unfortunately, their children from previous marriages and relationships may be left without any inheritance, even if that's not what their parents intended.
Many people who draft their estate plan are surprised by the number of assets they have, large and small, that need to be considered. An experienced California estate planning attorney will help you ensure that you've codified how you want those assets disbursed and whom you want to put in charge of various aspects of your estate, including your financial and health care powers of attorney, trustees, executors and agents. The more thought you've given to these questions before you and your attorney start working together, the smoother and less time consuming the process will be.
When Californians apply for Medi-Cal, which is our state's version of Medicaid, they often believe that by listing their home as exemption, they are protecting it from being taken to repay the benefits they've received from Medi-Cal. However, that's not the case. Just because an asset is listed as exempt on the application, that doesn't mean that it's exempt from benefits recovery action.