Legal Representation In San Mateo, California

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Questions to ask while creating an estate plan

An estate plan can help a person account for an illness or other event that could leave that individual incapacitated. It can also help a person in California or anywhere else account for what happens to assets after he or she passes. The first thing an individual should do when creating an estate plan is gather an inventory of physical and financial assets. This could include a mortgage statement, bank statement or anything else that helps a person determine his or her net worth.

From there, it may be possible to create a strategy that can keep those assets out of a creditor's hands in the future. Those who are creating estate plans should also account for any taxable events that could occur when an item is gifted or handed down. Finally, knowing how much money a person has can make it possible to ascertain if surviving family members will be all right financially after the testator passes.

Four kinds of business litigation

Sooner or later, most businesses get to know a good business law attorney. Hopefully sooner, since building an iron-clad agreement from the start of a relationship almost always prevents expensive and nasty disputes down the road.

Here are just a few kinds of business disputes attorneys help clients settle or, even better, avoid in the first place.

Benefits associated with a dynasty trust

California estate owners who have a desire to pass along assets to subsequent generations may consider the benefits of creating trusts. It's an appealing option because of tax advantages and the ability to have more control over how assets are distributed. A dynasty trust is simply an estate planning tool meant to last longer than one generation below that of the trust's creator (grantor).

If specific asset limits are exceeded, a generation-skipping transfer tax is imposed on assets transferred to grandchildren or other descendants. It's levied in addition to gift and estate taxes. However, trust assets are often protected from this type of taxation. What a dynasty trust does is remove family wealth from the tax transfer system. This protection continues for as long as the trust exists and its income and principal are passed along to subsequent generations.

Estate planning for the chronically ill

There are over 130 million people throughout the the United States who have a chronic illness. By the time 2020 arrives, there will be almost 157 million people in the country living with a chronic illness. People who have a chronic illness should make sure that their estate plan properly addresses the issues that come with health and aging complications.

The estate planning documents for the chronically ill should be completed as soon as possible after people have received a diagnosis. Depending on the progression of their illness, their ability to fully comprehend and sign legal documents may be impaired. The documents will be no different that the documents needed for the estate plans of most people. However, they should be modified to effectively answer the challenges they may face.

Common reasons for contesting a will

When a loved one passes away, emotions can be heightened, and topics relating to their estate can be sensitive. If you are surprised by the contents of your loved one's will, you may react in unexpected ways. It's common to feel anger, sadness and even betrayal. It is important that you take the time to process these emotions before you move forward and decide what action to take.

In certain circumstances, you may want to consider challenging the will. This can alter the amount that you are set to gain from the estate, and it can correct fraudulent or otherwise invalid aspects of the will. In order to successfully challenge a will, you need to have a legitimate route to follow. The following are some of the most common ways to contest a will.

The pros and cons of a TOD designation

Individuals who live or own property in California may want to avoid going through probate. Certain assets can avoid the probate process by placing a transfer on death, or TOD, designation on them. Bank accounts, the deed to a house and other assets typically qualify for this designation. It is important to note that once this designation is made, it trumps any language placed in a will. Therefore, it is important to regularly review TOD accounts.

Beneficiaries do not have any access to an asset prior to the current owner's passing. In some cases, the asset will first transfer to a surviving spouse before the beneficiary can make a claim to it. If a beneficiary is under the age of 18, assets will need to be managed by a guardian. Guardians can be appointed by the court or named as part of an overall estate plan.

Spouses need to access usernames and passwords

In California and across the United States, women need to know how to access data regarding their financial accounts. This knowledge is especially important if a husband passes away. A woman should have access to her husband's online passwords, usernames and answers to secret security questions. If a spouse dies without leaving his wife these types of vital keys, the situation may turn into a financial dilemma. For example, the wife may not have the ability to find out information about cellphone payments or online shopping accounts.

In today's modern computer and cellphone era, paperwork is not always available. Plus, many women permit their spouses to handle all the financial matters of their household. Even the most knowledgeable technician is not always capable of getting into the storage area of a computer's hard drive. Since statistics show that women typically live longer than men, it is critical for wives to obtain financial information before their husbands become ill or die.

The importance of revisiting an estate plan

For many successful people in California, passing on a legacy to their family members and loved ones is an important goal. However, there are many pieces to a complete estate plan, especially when significant assets are involved. By planning for the future, people can help to avoid family conflicts and work to ensure that their assets are used in the way they envision. While many people want to avoid discussions about death, these conversations can provide an important framework that improve peace of mind for everyone involved.

Even people who have already drafted wills, trusts and other estate documents should take care to revisit their plans on a regular basis. A check-in after several years can help people highlight potential problems due to changes in the law or in their family situations. For example, people may leave in place bequests that persist even after the recipient has passed away or after a divorce or other estrangement. In addition, tax laws change on a regular basis, and reviewing and updating an estate plan to reflect them can help people to save their family members substantial sums.

Accounting for family dynamics while estate planning

Raising children and dealing with family drama can be hard for anyone in California. However, it can be even more complicated in families that have a significant amount of wealth. Parents or grandparents typically have to contend with the fact that each heir has different needs or desires. Therefore, it isn't uncommon for siblings to get into squabbles or for family members to snipe at each other on occasion over the terms of an estate plan.

Siblings may be more likely to battle with each other if one is financially stable and the other is not. However, in some cases, brothers and sisters fight because it's just how they relate to each other. It is a good idea for parents and grandparents to actively communicate why an estate plan is structured as it is. It can also be a good idea for an individual to have a letter of intent that will be read after he or she passes.

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