Meinzer Law Firm, PC

Torrance Trusts and Estates Law Blog

Luke Perry's death helps show importance of estate planning

The loss of a loved one, regardless of whether it is expected, can be tragic. The emotional harm suffered during this time can be enough to leave an individual overwhelmed, but these surviving family members usually have more to deal with in the aftermath of their loved one's death. Oftentimes chief amongst them is settling matters related to the deceased's estate. Through effective and holistic estate planning, though, Californians can save their loved one's the trouble while at the same time provide for them in a way that they see fitting.

This type of planning can be seen in the case of recently deceased actor Luke Perry. Perry, who was 52 at the time of his death, was taken off life support his family after he suffered a massive stroke. Reports indicate that Perry would not have recovered from the stroke, which likely prompted the removal of life support. The fact that Perry's family was able to take this action points to the likely fact that Perry had some sort of power of attorney in place, designating an individual to make important healthcare decisions during his incapacitation.

Estate planning important even for those without children

Estate planning is often viewed as a process that is undertaken by those who want to pass wealth to their family members. So, this begs the question what one does when he or she doesn't have an immediate family. Should such an individual forego estate planning altogether? The answer is no, and here's why.

There are many components to estate planning. Sure, while a will and trusts can be utilized to leave assets to loved ones, powers of attorney and health care directives can ensure that you have a trusted individual making important decisions on your behalf in the event that you are not able to make them yourself. If you don't specify someone to make those decisions through these estate planning documents, then your health and financial wishes may be left to the whim of someone you don't even know.

How to make sure that your estate plan is private

In the age of social media and readily available information about people's lives, many are placing a new value on privacy. Keeping your personal information away from the eyes of the public is priceless. Many estate planners have this as one of their top priorities when they start to think about their estate planning strategies.

If you want to make sure that the details contained within your estate plan will remain private, it is important that you look into the different estate planning options and how they could help you with your other goals.

We create custom-tailored estate plans to fit all needs

In late December, we discussed the importance of estate planning after becoming a parent.

For many Californians, estate planning is something that isn't given much thought until there is a major life event such as the death of a loved one or the birth of a child. Although estate planning is something that should be engaged in early and often, there's no shame in starting the process later in life or after a life-changing event.

Reasons to create a charitable remainder trust

Whether giving time or money, most people take joy in engaging in charitable endeavors. Of course, with life's stress getting in the way, a lot of individuals find it challenging to give back as much as they would like. Fortunately, there is a way for these individuals to further identified charitable organizations while benefiting themselves and their heirs.

This is primarily accomplished by making a charitable remainder trust a part of one's estate plan. Here, an individual places assets into an irrevocable trust, which then earns income that is paid out to a named beneficiary for a specified period of time. Then, when the specified time period passes, the assets remaining in the trust are transferred to an identified charity. This allows one to earmark certain assets for charitable donation while retaining the ability to have the trust earn income.

Reasons to modify a will

A will can be a critical part of an estate plan. It can help delineate how assets will be distributed upon an individual's passing, and, when clearly written, it can prevent disputes from arising. However, a will is only effective if it accurately reflects an individual's wishes at the time he or she passes. This means that the mere creation of a will is not enough. Instead, those who create a will should revisit the document to ensure that it clearly reflects their wishes in the midst of life changes.

There are many events that may justify the changing of a will. The birth of a child may drive a grandparent to include that child in the will for purposes of asset distribution. A divorce, on the other hand, may cause an individual to decide that he or she no longer wishes to leave assets to the person who is no longer a part of the family. People may need to be added to wills in various situations, including when a new partner is obtained or step-children come into the picture. A will may also need changing when new assets are required. Failing to modify a will accordingly can result in unwanted consequences.

Estate planning and the durable financial power of attorney

Most people think that estate planning only consists of a detailed account of how one's assets will be distributed upon his or her death. While this does make up a substantial portion of estate planning, it is not the only thing that needs to be considered. Another important element of estate planning is how one's medical and financial affairs will be handled in the event that he or she suddenly becomes unable to make decisions pertaining to those matters on his or her own.

In order to protect one's financial well-being during times of incapacity, an individual can choose to create a durable financial power of attorney. Basically, this power of attorney is a document that gives another individual the legal authority to make financial decisions when the creator of the power of attorney becomes incapacitated.

How to plan your estate as a new parent

If you have recently become a parent for the first time, it is likely that you will feel slightly overwhelmed by the range of responsibilities that you now have. Like many new parents, you will probably have a new perspective on the future. You will want to make sure that your child is cared for and protected, no matter what the future brings.

This is why many new parents decide to look into planning their estate for the first time. This can feel very satisfying, because you will be safe in the knowledge that your child will have a support plan in place even if something unexpected happens. Estate planning for new parents can be overwhelming, however. It is important to read about how the process is initiated so that you are equipped to make wise choices.

The benefits of an irrevocable trust

Many individuals find the estate planning process daunting. One reason is because it forces them to contemplate their own death. Others find that the various legal options available to them in the estate planning process are overwhelming. Yet, by learning more about how to engage in effective estate planning, individuals can better rest assured that their assets will be distributed according to their wishes upon death. This, in turn, can give peace of mind.One tool that is often utilized in estate planning is the irrevocable trust. This type of trust allows an individual to place assets in the trust for many reasons, including avoiding estate taxes. When assets are transferred to the trust, the trust's creator loses all ownership. Since the trust is irrevocable, all actions are final and cannot be modified. However, an individual can place all kinds of restrictions and conditions upon the assets that are placed into the trust. These conditions and restrictions can dictate how assets will be used and under what conditions they can be distributed to beneficiaries.While an irrevocable trust carries tax benefits, these are not the only benefits available to those who utilize this type of trust. Another major benefit is the fact that an irrevocable trust can reduce an individual's assets, thereby allowing him or her to qualify for certain government programs such as Medicaid. This means that the decision whether to utilize his trust is sometimes reduced to a cost-benefit analysis.An irrevocable trust is just one of many trusts available to those engaging in estate planning. Each trust type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Becoming familiar with each is the best way to ensure that one's plan is holistic and in furtherance of his or her vision for the estate. Attorneys who are experienced in this field of law can help advise and guide individuals through these sometimes confusing legal waters.

Using wills and trusts to create a holistic estate plan

Last week on the blog we talked about how to handle hard assets like family heirlooms during estate planning. This can be a difficult task considering the fact that these assets often carry significant sentimental value. This means that many individuals may want to acquire those assets upon your passing, and deciding whom to leave such assets can be challenging. Therefore, you need to take care when determining how you want to distribute those assets upon your passing so that they are handled exactly as you'd like them to be.This, after all, is the challenge of estate planning. To start, you need to envision the future of your estate and your loved ones. Then, you need to develop strategies that seek to bring that vision into reality. This often means utilizing a number of legal vehicles, including wills and trusts.An attorney who is experienced and skilled in estate planning can help guide you through the process. He or she can advise you as to the advantages and disadvantages of each estate planning tool and create a legal strategy that supports your best interests. Therefore, before signing off on a finalized plan, you should have a full understanding of what each trust entails, as well as each will provision, including the conditions placed upon distribution of assets.By working with a legal professional you trust, you can rest assured that you're estate will be handled in accordance with your wishes. This is no small thing, as far too many people fail to adequately plan for the distribution of their estate on their passing. This is why the legal team at our law firm is dedicated to helping individuals and their families create customized legal strategies that work for them.

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