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How childless people can create an effective estate plan

California residents and others who don't have children can still benefit from creating an estate plan. This is because they will still need others to assist them in paying bills or taking care of other tasks if they became incapacitated. Appointing a financial agent may make it easier to ensure that investments are properly managed and that taxes are paid on time. The power of attorney can be as broad or narrow as necessary to meet a person's needs.

A living will, health care proxy and health care power of attorney may help determine the type of care that a person receives after becoming incapacitated. It is also important to sign a HIPAA authorization form so that an agent can have access to a person's medical records. Living trusts are another tool that childless individuals can use to manage their affairs if they become disabled or incapacitated.

Regularly reviewing an estate plan makes sense

Many Californians procrastinate when it comes to establishing an estate plan, even though most rate it high on their essential to-do list. And while those who have accomplished that task should rightfully feel good, it also should be realized it is not a one and done situation. An estate plan should be regularly reviewed and changes made where appropriate to ensure the plan continues to fulfill all that it is intended to do.

The primary reason review and potential updates are required is quite simple; things change. Financial advisors point out the largest potential change that can occur outside the family dynamic is a change in tax laws. For instance, a seminal issue is how much money passes free and clear under the unified federal and gift tax exemption. The current amount allows most Americans to avoid a federal estate tax but is also considered a very hot political topic among the competing interests in Congress, and as such, it is subject to change on a yearly basis.

Director's untimely death highlights need for estate plan

When a celebrity passes away with chaos in their estate, it can drive home the importance of writing a will and other estate documents. California director John Singleton was broadly celebrated for his unique vision and style. However, he repeatedly delayed writing a will or making a trust, family members say. After he died unexpectedly at 51 in April 2019 due to a stroke, family members found that the only estate document he left behind was an old will written in 1993. He was not married when he passed away, but he is survived by at least five children. The paternity of two minor girls remains in dispute. He had only one child at the time the will was written.

Singleton's family members have disagreed openly about his medical treatment, plans for his estate and the triggers behind his stroke. Given the divisions that already exist in the family, the lack of a clear estate plan may only encourage infighting that could lead to wasting a substantial portion of the director's estate. Many people with wealth can benefit from creating trusts. These allow people to pass on their property with a higher level of privacy and without going through the probate courts.

The 4 most common causes of business litigation

Business litigation is sometimes necessary when two or more parties have entered a complex dispute. While business litigation can be time-consuming, stressful and costly, it often helps parties to gain clarity over a situation and gain closure so that the business can move forward.

However, businesses should consider other ways of resolving the issue before deciding to embark on business litigation. Sometimes, simple strategies such as improved communication can go a long way toward preventing litigation. The following are the four most common causes of business litigation:

Why it matters who the trustee is

One of the most important parts of creating an estate plan that contains a trust is choosing the right trustee. In many cases, California residents choose a family member or friend to serve in this capacity. However, this may not always be the right decision. In some cases, it can be better to have a professional oversee a trust because that person has no emotional connection to the individual who created it.

The use of a financial adviser may be ideal for those who think that their family members or friends could have conflicts of interest. For example, a trustee may approve a distribution request that goes against the trust's language in an effort to preserve a personal relationship with a beneficiary. Since a professional has no personal ties to a beneficiary, decisions can be made in an objective manner.

Tips for estate planning in nontraditional families

California families in which there are stepchildren, adopted children, cohabiting unmarried adults, single parents and other nontraditional configurations may find that traditional estate planning advice does not cover their situation. Even trusts, which can be used in a number of complex situations, might need some provisions and adjustments.

With a traditional trust, there is generally a beneficiary who receives income from it until death. At that point, the remainder passes to another beneficiary. A more useful arrangement might be a flexible schedule with an institutional trustee who has the discretion to make distributions.

Families generally don't work together on estate planning

A survey from Key Private Bank polled 122 financial advisers to see how often future generations are involved with a person's charitable giving. Of those that responded, about 80% said that only some of their clients did so. However, it may be beneficial for parents and grandparents in California to talk to their younger relatives about their philanthropic goals. This is because different generations tend to have different ideas as to what causes are the most worthy to support.

Older Americans generally want to give their money to religious organizations while younger Americans want to help the environment. Ideally, parents and grandparents will learn to respect the opinions of their descendants and cater to their wishes whenever possible. Furthermore, it can be a good idea to step back at times and let them decide how the family will donate its time or money going forward.

Administrating a deceased loved one's estate: some challenges

Besides the tax issues, there are various challenges that individuals will face if they are handling estate matters for a loved one in California who has died. First, a lot depends on who the executor is. If the loved one died intestate, the probate court will appoint an administrator. If there was a will, it most likely designates an executor. If there was a trust, it will have designated a trustee.

Those who do not feel that they need a professional executor may want to think twice, especially if there are unreasonable heirs to contend with. If a person does take on the role of executor, they must prepare for time-consuming work and for short deadlines.

Including grandchildren in your estate plan

Thinking about estate planning requires that you engage in emotional reflection and consider who is important to you. Additionally, you need to think strategically about how you can maximize the benefit that you can provide your loved ones at the end of your lifetime.

It is common for people who are planning their estate to have a desire to include their grandchildren in their estate plan. This is a great way to ensure that they will be able to use your assets to improve their lives in key ways in the future, from paying college fees to buying their first home. However, it is particularly important to ensure that your grandchildren do not use their inheritance for the wrong reasons. This is why provisions can be put in place to ensure that inheritances are used responsibly.

How to account for art in an estate plan

Parents and grandparents in California may have no problem keeping track of how much cash they have or the value of their stock portfolio. However, it may be more difficult to keep track of how much an art collection is worth or to determine the fair value for other family heirlooms. Determining the value of a painting, sculpture or other tangible asset is important because it may help to determine how to best to insure it.

Knowing how much an item is worth can also make it easier to decide who gets the asset or how to otherwise incorporate it into an estate plan. Ideally, assets will be appraised by a professional from an accredited organization such as the American Society of Appraisers. Relying on online price guides or the words of the original seller is more likely to result in an inaccurate valuation.

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