Meinzer Law Firm, PC

Torrance Trusts and Estates Law Blog

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.

The basics of a conservatorship

As we age, our ability to care for ourselves diminishes considerably. While some of us are fortunate enough to handle our own affairs late into life, others become unable to perform even some of life's basic duties. When this happens, these individuals or their loved ones may want to consider creating legal protections to ensure that the vulnerable individual is appropriately cared for.

One way to do this is to create a conservatorship. A conservatorship is a legal relationship created by court order whereby one party becomes responsible for the care of another when that individual becomes unable to care for himself or herself. These conservatorships can be created through the probate process, but they can also be created when an individual is struggling with a mental health illness.

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.

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