Many Californians don't consider developing an estate plan until they have a child. Then, the primary consideration is often who will be that child's guardian(s) should both parents pass away or be unable to care for their offspring.
Many people develop an estate plan when they first have children. They want to ensure that their kids are cared for by responsible adults and provided for financially if they pass away. However, too often, they then neglect to update those estate plans over the years.
Parents and grandparents generally feel fortunate when they have considerable assets to pass on to younger generations in their family. However, how can you assure that they'll handle their inheritances wisely?
If you're drafting your estate plan with the intention of leaving some or all of your assets to your adult children, it's essential to talk to them about their inheritances once you've determined what you are going to leave them. For many families, this may be the first time that parents and kids have discussed just how much there is in the estate. Many kids are surprised to find that their parents, whom they've always seen as tight with a buck while growing up, have actually amassed a good deal of money.
If you're a Californian doing your estate planning, it's essential to understand that it can, and maybe should, involve more than a will and other documents that detail how you want your assets disbursed after your death. For example, you can designate your wishes for your health care ahead of time in case you are unable to speak for yourself later.
One of the areas covered in many Californians' estate plans is what actions they want and don't want taken to extend their lives if they are unable to speak for themselves. These can be spelled out in detail in an Advance Health Care Directive and overseen by a health care power of attorney. In California, the Natural Death Act allows people to be removed from devices and not undergo procedures that would keep them alive if they choose.
Being named as the executor of an estate or the trustee for a trust is quite the responsibility. It will be your job to interpret and follow the last wishes of a loved one. This could include the division of assets, the allocation of physical items and even clearing out a living space.
It used to be that estate planning largely involved deciding how much money each of your children would get when you died, and who would inherit the good silverware and vacation home in La Jolla. For many Californians, it still is.
It happens in many families where the roles reverse and adult children become responsible for the welfare of their parents. If a doctor has diagnosed your parent with dementia or other mentally impairing disease, it may be time to start taking steps to ensure that you will be able to manage affairs when the time comes.
Most people think of estate planning as designating how assets will be handled after they die or if they are no longer able to speak for themselves. However, certain aspects of estate planning, like living trusts, are important for protecting your assets while you're still alive and well.