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What Is Estate Planning In California?


Estate planning is actually planning for two things that may happen in your life. The first one that people think about is planning for the transition of your estate when you die. It is important to have everything in place for a client so that when they die their assets are managed and distributed in the way that they want them to be; meaning that they go to the right people. The attorneys at Newell & Havens get the right people in charge of that administrative process and then all of that can be handled without having to go through unnecessary procedures such as probate.

Additionally, the firm of Newell & Havens provides a structure so that if the client becomes incapacitated, someone can manage matters for him or her during their lifetime. Those responsibilities could include managing assets, making personal decisions, medical decisions, and anything else that may need to be done for someone if they become incapacitated. Estate planning will be able to handle all of this without all of the formalities, which in this case would be a conservatorship which is very inconvenient, very expensive and very time consuming.

Are Most People Surprised That They Have Assets To Plan For?

People tend to think of themselves as ordinary and simple and therefore having ordinary or simple estates. Yet those are the ones that can be problematic. For example, in California if someone has gross assets over $150,000, their estate will go to probate when they die. That number isn’t actually that much when you take into account this would include anyone who owns a home in California, even if it is through a loan on the entire value of the home. It is based on the gross value of the asset, not the net value. Based on that and other factors, a lot more people need to do estate planning than they may realize.

Why Do People Procrastinate When Planning For Their Estates?

There are two reasons that people tend to procrastinate or avoid estate planning. One reason is that they don’t want to think about it. When you are doing estate planning, you force people to think about things or talk about things that they really would rather not think about such as his or her own mortality and the fact that they could become incapacitated. Even once you get past all of that, often we even talk about their children and other family members and what would happen should they die or become incapacitated. It is very hard for people to think about these things.

Another reason people avoid planning for their estate, especially for younger families, is the difficulty in choosing who they would nominate as the responsible people should they die. Who you would want to have guardianship of your children is a very difficult question in a lot of cases. Rather than face facts and make tough decisions, they just put it off and hope for the best.

What Happens If You Don’t Have An Estate Plan In Place?

If you do not have an estate plan in place, the state of California has provided one for you. You will get what we call intestate, which refers to people who do not have an estate plan. They will divide your assets among the heirs, a legal term meaning the nearest living relatives, at your death.

As far as guardianship of your children, most of the time guardianship goes to the first person who asks or the first person who runs down to the court and files for it. Unless there is a really good reason for the court not to grant it, they will most likely get it and they may or may not be the people that you wanted to care for your children.

How Often Should People Update Their Estate Plan?

How often you need to update your estate plan really varies with what stage of life you are in. For younger people with families that are growing, it should be reviewed fairly often, perhaps every three years or so. After your children have grown and gone and life has settled down a bit and there aren’t a lot of changes in the family, that may change and your estate plan may only need to be reviewed every five to seven years.

What Are Life Events That Prompt People To Update Their Estate Plans?

There are several life events that might prompt someone to update his or her estate plan. For example, marriage of children, birth of grandchildren, deaths or even moving to a different state certainly would be cause for the review of an estate plan.

For more information on Estate Planning In California, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (626) 385-6303 today.

Newell & Havens Attorney At Law

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(626) 385-6303.

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