Many Californians who establish wills and trusts simply want their assets to be distributed in accordance with their wishes while avoiding conflict. This is especially true when loved ones are written out of an estate plan or assets are distributed in a lopsided fashion. In these instances, an estate planning document may be legally challenged. Sometimes beneficiaries, or those who thought they should have been a beneficiary, claim that a will or trust was created under coercion, duress, or undue influence. In other cases, a will is challenged on other grounds, such as failing to adhere to statutory requirements.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An effective estate plan is a good thing to have for a number of reasons not the least of which is that is will provide peace of mind for the estate planner and help avoid potential confusion or conflict for family members and loved ones during a difficult period of time. An effective estate plan will ensure the estate planner's assets are distributed according to their wishes.