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California Estate Planning Blog

Do beneficiaries need a copy of an inventory during probate?

The executor of a California estate has a lot of responsibilities. Because it is important to know exactly what assets are part of the estate, many states require that the executor complete an inventory of the remaining assets during probate proceedings. The parties who are entitled to copies of the inventory depends on state laws.

In some cases, the heirs and beneficiaries do not have to receive a copy of the inventory. The inventory may need to be filed directly with the court, but the law may not require that the beneficiaries receive a copy unless they specifically request one. Along those same lines, if state laws do require that the executor provide a copy of the inventory to the heirs and beneficiaries, those parties could waive their rights to a copy.

When it comes to trusts, choose trustees wisely

When estate planning, it can sometimes seem as if there are more questions than answers. However, asking certain questions can help California residents ensure that they make the best choices for their plans. For example, individuals utilizing trusts as part of their plans may want to ask certain questions before choosing trustees.

First, parties may want to determine whether the person they want to act as the trustee is qualified to take on the role. A lot of work can go into managing a trust, and even if a trustmaker has someone in mind, that candidate may not actually be the best fit. Additionally, even if the person is qualified, the trustmaker may want to ask whether the candidate is willing to act as a trustee. Some people do not have the time or desire to take on such an important position.

Trusts, other planning tools can accomplish charitable giving

Many California residents have giving attitudes and hearts. They want to help others as much as they can, especially in charitable capacities. For some individuals, continuing that giving after their passing may be a desired goal. Fortunately, there are various ways that parties can use trusts and other estate planning tools to address charitable giving.

Trusts are a great way to ensure that a charity or multiple charities benefit from the remaining assets of an estate. Individuals can create a revocable trust that names the charitable organization of their choice as a beneficiary. The trustmaker can also indicate whether the funds or other assets should be put toward a specific purpose that the organization will carry out or whether the assets can be used for a general purpose at the organization's discretion.

Asking your parents about their estate planning

Now in your mid-40s, you start putting together an estate plan. As you do it, you begin wondering about your own parents. They are closer to needing the plan than you are -- in theory, at least -- but you do not know if they have done anything yet.

You begin to worry. This is really going to impact your life. If they have no plan, it creates a lot of work for you and your siblings. It can also lead to disputes. You have heard plenty of stories about siblings fighting over assets when they cannot agree on what Mom and Dad would have wanted.

Corporate trustees could manage trusts without bias

When considering the many tools available to create an estate plan, some California residents may wonder whether they need more than a will. While a will certainly is a useful and essential estate planning document, other tools can help make a plan more comprehensive. For example, trusts can have many uses and offer asset protection that wills cannot. Of course, some parties may worry about who to put in charge of a trust, but luckily, the answer could be easy.

Some individuals may worry about appointing a family member to such an important role because it may cause strife with other family members. Fortunately, individuals can appoint an outside party to manage and administer the trust. A corporate trustee can take on the necessary responsibilities and potentially prevent family squabbles over who is in charge.

Not updating wills after moving is a major estate planning error

Many people believe that their estate plans will help their loved ones understand their wishes. While a well-executed plan can certainly achieve that goal, some people may make mistakes when creating their wills and other documents that result in difficulties for family members. As a result, it is wise to go over plans to ensure that no errors exist.

One issue that some individuals in California may not consider is needing to update their plan if they moved to the state from somewhere else. Some parties may have created a plan before moving, and they may think that it will still be valid after the move. However, laws regarding estate planning differ from state to state, and a plan created in one state may not be valid under the laws of another, which means it is important to update a plan after moving.

Different types of wills suit different estates

Estate planning is something that many California residents and those elsewhere do not fully understand. They may think that they just need a will and then their affairs will be in order. However, there are different types of wills, and the one that best fits a situation can depend on the person.

For example, if a person is not married and has no children, it is likely that he or she will want to create a simple will. This type of will can include information about who gets what after the person's passing and designate who should act as the executor of the estate. This type of will may also be most fitting for individuals who do not have substantial assets to consider.

Using different types of wills in estate plans

The start of a new year is often a time that people start assessing certain aspects of their lives. Though some people may not have gotten a jump-start on this assessment on New Year's Day, there is still plenty of time to consider ways to plan for the future. In fact, some California residents may be considering their wills and estate plans at this time.

Creating a will is an important step for any adult. Even if parties choose to move the majority of their assets into trusts to avoid probate or simply for additional asset protection, having a will is still vital. This document is the only place that allows a parent to name a guardian for any minor children, and it also allows individuals to appoint an executor for their estate.

Most people have not done their estate planning

Do you feel concerned that your parents or perhaps even your grandparents have not done their estate planning? You don't know if you should bring it up; it's something of an awkward conversation since you don't want it to sound like you're just trying to find out "what you'll get" or that you think they could pass away soon. But you also do not think they have a plan in place, and that worries you.

Most people do not

Testamentary trusts can help account for specific issues

It is fortunate that there are so many options available when it comes to estate planning. In particular, the versatility of trusts can help California residents ensure that their exact wishes are followed after their passing. For some individuals, the use of a testamentary trust could allow them that sense of security.

A testamentary trust goes into effect after a person's passing. If individuals have minor loved ones or loved ones with special needs, implementing a testamentary trust may be wise because it can allow assets to be distributed over a period of time and in accordance with specific instructions. As a result, a special needs loved one would be less likely to lose government benefits after receiving an inheritance, and family members not yet adults would have someone in charge of their inheritances until they come of age.

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