To those who are retired, have plenty of money and are entering their golden years, the importance of an estate plan may be an afterthought. After all, they probably have managed their money and assets well up to this point, and may feel that creating an estate plan invites morbid thoughts of their own mortality.
A probate judge will decide what's best for your estate assets and minor children should you die intestate. Dying without a will means you forfeit control over the distribution of possessions and child guardianship. California succession laws, Probate Code sections 6400-6414, define what happens when you ignore estate planning.
Who will receive your retirement savings when you die? Will it be the heir named in your will or the forgotten beneficiary you chose years ago? If you believe a California will trumps a beneficiary designation, think again.
The totality of what you own is your estate. Sometimes, Los Angeles residents feel assets don't need estate planning attention until later in life. After all, when you're a young California adult, a lot of what you earn is burned up in expenses like college tuition, buying a vehicle or getting married.
The age of maturity isn't the same for all individuals and can differ by years from the age of majority or legal adulthood. Los Angeles parents who plan to leave their children a substantial inheritance often worry how assets will be handled once the children get them.
Many California legal documents, like some trusts, cover asset transfer wishes for individuals in robust health. Other estate planning documents, like wills, have no effect until a person dies. However, neither of these documents will do much good if you become incapacitated and unable to manage your finances and health care decisions.
The holiday season is one of the few times each year that entire families make a concerted effort to be in the same place at the same time. Even members of small families have incompatible schedules that make scheduling otherwise difficult. A California parent who wants to convey their estate wishes may have no better opportunity to talk face-to-face with heirs than the holidays.
The holiday season gives Los Angeles families the opportunity to get together. That can be something that can be hard to coordinate any other time of the year. There are only a few occasions outside of holidays that draw families to one place. Among the most common are births, marriages and deaths.
An adult lifetime is spent carefully gathering, managing and protecting assets. If you're like many Los Angeles residents with considerable wealth, some or a great deal of those assets will outlive you to benefit the ones you love. Many affluent Californians supplement estate planning documents with trusts, to ensure that heirs and beneficiaries preserve assets wisely and receive the maximum benefits.
A large inheritance received during a time of grief would seem like a great comfort. Without proper thought and consideration, though, that windfall can create more problems than solutions.