Some California parents may assume that a will is sufficient for passing assets to their children, but there may be some good reasons to consider a trust. A trust is a very different instrument. While a will only takes effect on a person's death, a person may set up and control a revocable trust while still alive. An irrevocable trust is also a possibility although it offers its creator, or grantor, less control.
It's a good first step for someone in California wishing to protect assets or provide for future generations to have an estate plan in place. However, if an existing plan is not updated or being regularly reviewed, there may be gaps or instances where current wishes are not reflected. For this reason, individuals with an estate plan are often advised to be proactive about making appropriate adjustments.
When people in California pass away, they will often name an executor in their will. In other cases, the probate court may appoint the representative. However, death does not put an end to tax obligations. Instead, it leads to the need for a new tax assessment of the deceased's gross estate. The estate includes all the property that a person owned at the time of his or her death. There are several different types of property involved in assessing a total gross estate, including bank accounts, investments and real estate. The estate also includes lifetime gifts, overseas property, joint property with a right of survivorship and some types of community property. It can even include certain types of life insurance proceeds.