For California families who own farms or ranches, estate planning is essential to help ensure that the businesses they've worked so hard to build and maintain continue on successfully when they're no longer around. However, as with all types of estate planning, too often it gets neglected.
Estate documents are essential to uphold your voice on important matters and your family's future after you have passed on. These documents should stay safe and easily accessible to your family when you can no longer be there to guide them. There is no point in having an estate plan if no one will be able to find it. Here is what you should know.
Most single parents have little time to think about estate planning. If they're relatively young and healthy, many do not. However, things can change in the blink of an eye. That's why it's essential to ensure that you've made arrangements not only to ensure that your children are properly cared for, but that your assets go to the beneficiaries you wish.
When you sit down with your estate planning attorney to draft your will and other estate documents, you may go in with the presumption that you will leave each of your children an equal share of your estate. However, equal isn't necessarily fair.
Over the next three decades, Americans will transfer more wealth than ever before — an estimated $6 trillion dollars — as the World War II generation and Baby Boomers reach the end of their lives. Sadly, too many people aren't prepared to deal with a significant inheritance. It's estimated that 70 percent of assets transferred to the next generation are lost. Ninety percent don't make it to the generation beyond that.
For many people, estate planning isn't something they want to think about when they're healthy. No one enjoys contemplating death. However, that means that many Californians wait until they're at the end stages of their lives to make wills and other financial preparations.
For people who are in lines of work that involve intellectual property, taking steps to protect that property from being used by others without their permission is essential. This can include artistic works like music, art and fashion designs, as well as computer programs and inventions. If you're a famous person, it can even include the use of your photo or other likeness. Intellectual property is generally trademarked, patented or copyrighted.
Remarriage is one of those life events that will likely necessitate some changes to your estate plan. You'll probably want to include your new spouse in your plan while ensuring that any children from your previous marriage still receive at least some of the assets that you originally designated to them. Further, you may want to designate your new spouse as your health care and/or financial power of attorney.
Most young people don't consider developing an estate plan unless they have a considerable amount of money or assets, either from earnings, an inheritance, a legal settlement or some other source. They're busy building their careers, working towards paying off student loans and perhaps starting families.
California parents who have special needs children have unique challenges when they're doing their estate planning. That's why it's essential to have an experienced California estate planning attorney guide you through the process and help you avoid some common mistakes.