Meinzer Law Firm, PC

Torrance Trusts and Estates Law Blog

Some reasons to have a probate hearing on trust issues

It can be easy to think that an individual who has created an estate plan has initiated a foolproof way to have his or her assets distributed in accordance with his or her wishes.

While this may generally be true, the fact is that oftentimes the distribution of estate assets rests in the hands of an estate administrator or a trustee. Although these individuals have a fiduciary duty, meaning that they must make decisions that are in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries, disputes often arise as to whether appropriate actions have been taken.

We're here to help with Medicaid and long-term care planning

Recently on the blog we talked about Medicaid planning and the effectiveness of long-term care insurance. These are important matters, considering the fact that most of us will need some sort of long-term care in the future. To successfully address these matters, individuals need to have some foresight. They need to know how to protect their and their family's financial interests, which usually means that they have to address these matters in a number of ways, including by creating an effective estate plan.

This can be a complicated process, which is why skilled legal professionals stand ready to help. A qualified attorney will know how to create trusts that allow assets to be excluded from consideration with regard to certain public benefits. This tactic is often successful in allowing an individual to retain wealth while at the same time secure benefits through programs like Medicaid.

Here are some common estate planning mistakes

There are a number of ways to create an effective estate plan. Unfortunately, there are just any many mistakes that can be made that leave estates susceptible to improper or unwanted distribution. Avoiding these common mistakes takes diligence, but it is something that most individuals can achieve with the assistance of an experienced legal professional.

The biggest mistake, of course, is failing to create an estate plan at all. This can cause an estate to be subjected to the state's intestate succession laws, which means that his or her assets may pass in a fashion that is contrary to his or her wishes. Many people fail to realize that estate planning also includes planning for one's incapacitation so that, in the event that tragedy strikes, one's health and financial interests are protected.

Discussing residential care with a loved one

Watching a parent or loved one get older and become less independent can be a difficult and upsetting experience. You may notice that you have to help them with an increasing amount of daily tasks, and you may also witness their personality change from being energetic and outgoing to reserved and fearful. If you are worried about their safety when they are home alone, you may have considered what the benefits of residential care could be.

If you are already convinced that a nursing home could increase your loved one's quality of life and safety, you will need to bring up the topic, which can be emotional and scary. If you are concerned about your loved one's future, you should consider approaching the topic sensitively. The following are some tips for discussing future living options with an aging family member.

Family dynamics can shape estate planning decisions

Estate planning may seem simple enough, but depending on the circumstances at hand it can actually be quite complicated. These challenges are often the result of family dynamics. Individuals who fail to create an estate plan or create only the most basic of estate plans can have their estates fall into the hands of individuals they never intended to touch it.

For this reason, Californians who have complicated familial relationships, blended families, or strenuous circumstances may want to work closely with an estate planning attorney to best determine what they can do to ensure their assets are handed down in accordance with their wishes.

Estate plans should clearly address asset titles

Effective estate planning requires a significant amount of attention to detail. Even some of the most well thought out estate plans can fall on their face when seemingly minor things are missed. This is why it is often critically important to discuss estate planning with a legal professional who will know how to avoid common pitfalls and ensure that asset distribution is in accordance with a testator's wishes.

One way to ensure appropriate asset distribution is to double check how assets are titled. Although an individual can utilize a will to dictate how his or her assets will be distributed, this document will only address assets are part of the probate estate. That is to say that assets that already have a named beneficiary will not go to those heirs named in the beneficiary designation.

The digital age, estate planning, and account passwords

The digital era has revolutionized the way we live our lives. Without access to the Internet, many of our daily activities would come to a halt. Our banking, bill paying, and investing are often all conducted in a paperless fashion. While this electronic world has made just about everything more convenient, it can also pose some estate planning challenges.

This is because even though industry professionals suggest not writing down passwords for security purposes, failing to do so can make it extremely challenging for heirs, beneficiaries, and estate executors to identify and properly distribute estate assets. To see just how difficult this issue can be one need only look at the recent death of a crypto currency founder who recently passed away without leaving his password behind. As a result, approximately $190 million is crypto currency may be forever locked away.

Is contesting a will worthwhile?

If a loved one has recently passed away, you may have already learned about the contents of their will. If you were shocked to find out that you were not named as a beneficiary or if the contents of the will were otherwise unexpected, you may be wondering if your loved one was influenced or manipulated in some way.

If you do believe that the will should not be accepted in its current form, you may want to take action in California to challenge the will. However, challenging a will can be a very stressful process to go through, especially when you are grieving, and it is not always successful. It is always wise to consider whether initiating the process of challenging a will is likely to be worthwhile. The following are some key factors to consider.

Medicaid planning and long-term care insurance

As we age, our need for medical care increases. While some Californians are fortunate enough to obtain this care and remain at home, others need more extensive long-term care such as the assistance of a nursing home. Regardless of the extent of care needed, such treatment can be extremely costly.

Retirement savings that took decades to build can quickly be eaten into by these expenses, and others find that their savings simply aren't enough to meet their needs. This is why individuals should consider government benefits that may be helpful to them as they age. Qualifying for these benefits may play an important role in estate planning.

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