Many California residents want to protect their assets for future generations and make sure that their end-of-life wishes are known. Fortunately, estate planning can offer several ways to reach these goals. While wills are important documents to include in such plans, there are other aspects of planning to also consider.
It does not matter whether a person is wealthy or has children, every adult should create an estate plan. While comprehensive plans tend to offer the best protection and information, some California residents may be content with just creating wills. In any case, having at least some type of legally-binding plan in place is better than leaving no information.
Estate planning in California is a necessary protective measure that residents can use to support a more secure and sound financial status. The trusts, wills, powers of attorney and other documents that make up the process must be part of a strategic plan that takes into account all of the person's financial circumstances. Setting up a system of legal protection for one's assets and financial goals is far better than the alternative, which is to allow the courts to decide how and where a person's assets will be distributed after death.
In California, there is a basic body of legal instruments that the estate planning attorney will recommend. While the estate plan of a married couple contains several recognized documents, such as wills, powers of attorney, trusts and health care directives, one's estate planning tasks are not yet completed. The couple must do a final search of all assets to determine how they are titled.
In the aftermath of two tragic and very high-profile deaths by suicide, it's important to consider what both individuals had in common. Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were both separated from their spouses but not yet divorced. That means that, unless other provisions were made, their surviving spouses will both have the ability to benefit from and manage all aspects of their considerable estates. Whether or not that was what the parties intended is unknown, but it does underscore the importance of creating updated wills and other documents during a California separation.
A major purpose of estate planning in California and elsewhere is sometimes misunderstood. An important goal is often to preserve the assets and make them available to improve the lives of another generation of one's family. At the same time, it important to preserve family harmony in the process of wealth transfer, which is a subject to which wills and other estate documents can be helpful if accompanied by the proper measure of information and open communications.
California estate planning is a forthright process, but it does not prevent obstacles from arising during the post-distribution phase. No matter how effective the planning measures contained in the trusts, wills and other planning tools, the lack of follow through or the inability to manage wealth by the heirs can result in various critical obstacles, including a rapid depletion of the assets. Part of the problem may be related to the heirs' lack of financial management knowledge and skills.
Anyone of sound mind can create their own will fairly easily. To make a legally binding will in California, you must put your wishes in writing and get the document signed by two witnesses—who are not required to read it. Then you sign and date it. If you draft your will be hand—known as a holographic will—then you can circumvent the witness signature requirement.