Meinzer Law Firm, PC

Torrance Trusts and Estates Law Blog

Estate planning and business succession

Building and running a successful business takes time, money, and a whole lot of dedication. For many entrepreneurs, their business is their life's work and their legacy. As such, they really should plan for the future of the business when the time comes that they are no longer around to run it. This often comes up in terms of retirement, but it should also be carefully considered when engaging in estate planning. After all, forgetting to address a business in your estate plan may cause it to be left in the hands of someone is inept in business affairs.

For this reason, it is often wise to engage in some sort of succession planning. Those who are sole proprietors can simply choose who they want to take over the business upon their passing and specify that in a will. Alternatively, the business can be left to a beneficiary in a trust so that regular income can be generated for the beneficiary while affairs are managed by others. In businesses with more than one owner, the matter may require much more attention to detail.

The pour-over will can make estate planning simpler

Wills and trusts can be tailored to fit an individual's needs. This is the beauty of estate planning. Regardless of one's family makeup, resources, or desire for asset distribution, there is a legal strategy for them.

Some Californians may feel comfortable relying solely on a simple will, while others may find it beneficial to create a number of trusts in order to ensure that named beneficiaries are appropriately cared for. Trusts can also allow a testator to retain some control over assets by allowing for release of trust assets only after certain conditions are met. This is a major draw for some.

Simple probate may be available to those with smaller estates

Much of estate planning focuses on how an estate can avoid the probate process. There are many reasons why an individual may want to do this. To start, probate can stall the asset distribution process. It requires the identifying of assets, the settling of debts, and determining how assets should be disbursed amongst heirs and beneficiaries. This process can be costly, too. This can cause heirs and beneficiaries to lose a significant amount of their inheritance's value as court and administration fees are withdrawn.

While a competent estate plan can help some Californians avoid the probate process altogether, there are other ways to minimize the impact probate can have on an estate. For example, California law allows for a simplified probate process when the value of an estate is $150,000 or less. Here, a successor need only follow a few simple steps in order to satisfy the law and ensure a quick transition of assets. To start, a successor needs to wait at least 40 days after the estate planner's death. Then, once that time has passed, the successor must submit an affidavit under penalty of perjury that states some pertinent information, such as the decedent's name, date of death, and a number of facts about the estate, its value, and its management.

When is it time to update my estate plan?

Everyone's life is in a constant state of flux. Relationships start and end, bank balances fluctuate and opinions change. Estate plans should be altered in order to reflect this change, but it is, of course, absurd to change them monthly to reflect the small changes in our lives.

Many people struggle to gauge the right time to update their estate plan, and this often leads them to delay the decision. For some people, this delay means that their estate plan is never updated to reflect their true wishes. This either leads to a distribution of assets that do not represent what they wanted at the end of their life, or an upsetting legal battle involving the loved ones of the deceased.

Common issues when creating a will or trust

The will is often thought of as the most basic of estate planning tools. This is true to a certain extent. This document basically spells out how one's assets will be distributed upon death.

As easy as that may sound, the truth is that even basic estate planning requires a lot of attention to detail to carry out effectively. Failing to thoroughly vet your will and other estate planning documents, such as trusts and powers of attorney, can lead to disastrous consequences for your estate and your beneficiaries and heirs.

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.

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