Adam Diran Attorney at Law

San Jose California Estate Planning Law Blog

The estate planning tradition may benefit nontraditional families

All California families have unique aspects. Some are considered traditional with a first-time married couple who have a few kids. Of course, these days, it is more likely that families do not stick to tradition. In fact, some parents may be married for the second or subsequent time, and children from different relationships may play major roles. While blended families can be just as loving, issues could arise if those familial relationships are not accounted for during estate planning.

Unfortunately, even when the relationships are not necessarily bad, rifts can arise between stepparents and stepchildren after a biological parent's death. The kids may feel that they should inherit the majority of their parent's assets or may feel that a stepparent coerced a biological parent into favoring him or her more than the children. In efforts to reduce the chances of such conflicts, individuals may want to utilize certain planning tools.

Estate plans need updating after divorce

Getting divorced was likely not a life change that many California residents had planned for well ahead of time. However, it can happen to any married couple, and the impacts can be far-reaching. If individuals took the time to plan ahead when it came to their estate plans, they may benefit from updating their plans after their divorces are finalized.

Often, people include their spouses in their estate plans, and because of this, it is important to make changes to those plans after divorce. If modifications are not made, ex-spouses could potentially end up still benefiting from an estate or end up having certain controlling powers. Though state laws may address this scenario, making updates is still wise. For instance, individuals who named their then-spouses as power of attorney agents may want to revoke that power after divorce and name new agents.

The importance of updating your estate plan

Creating an estate plan is an essential part of planning for your future, but it is by no means the final step in the process. Once you've taken the necessary step of formulating an estate plan, it is important to continue revisiting and updating your plans throughout your life.

An estate plan is only as useful as it is relevant, which means that an outdated plan can be detrimental to the proper execution of a person's final wishes. An outdated will, trust or other element of an estate plan can derail the probate process in California and send loved ones on a long, potentially painful route to resolving disputes from the estate.

Estate planning can help prepare for various scenarios

Everyone needs help at some point in their lives. Often, California residents are able to ask someone they trust for help at a given time. However, if a person becomes incapacitated, it is unlikely that he or she will have the ability to indicate who should help or how the person should help. For this reason, it is important to use estate planning to prepare for such scenarios.

When it comes to having the help one needs when it is needed, power of attorney documents can be useful tools. This document can allow a person to appoint an individual or multiple individuals to handle important decisions relating to property, health care and finances. For example, if a financial issue arises or a need to pay certain expenses after a person becomes incapacitated, having a financial power of attorney agent appointed could allow for an easier transition in terms of having someone else make financial decisions on the person's behalf.

Estate planning mistakes you do not want to make

If you are thinking about preparing your will, then congratulations, you are making a wise decision and taking care of your family and friends. However, a will is just one of many pieces of estate planning you should be considering.

The biggest mistake you can make with estate planning is not having any plan at all. Since you may be at least thinking about constructing your will, you need to make sure you do not procrastinate too long and end up not doing it at all. Here are other mistakes to avoid with your estate planning.

Estate planning can help address specific concerns

Getting end-of-life affairs in order is not a simple task. After all, California residents will need to look at their lives as a whole and make many decisions regarding how they want the important facets of their lives handled in the event of incapacitation or death. Estate planning can help organize these decisions.

Even if people have specific aspects of their lives that create concern, there are likely planning tools that can help. For example, some individuals may have loved ones with special needs who could simultaneously benefit and suffer from an inheritance. They could benefit from having additional funds for care, but they could suffer a loss of government benefits if those funds are received improperly. Fortunately, individuals could utilize special needs trusts to prevent negative repercussions for those loved ones.

3 common beneficiary designation missteps

Certain types of assets, such as retirement accounts and insurance policies, come with beneficiary designations. These allow a person to name who will benefit from these assets upon his or her death. So, they are important estate planning tools.

It is critical to avoid mistakes when it comes to these tools. Today, we’ll discuss three common missteps people sometimes fall into when it comes to beneficiary designations.

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