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Davis Estate Planning and Probate Blog

Challenging a will is only possible in specific cases

When a person takes the time to create an estate plan, he or she will usually assume that people will accept the will and other portions of the plan. There are some cases in which wills can be challenged and these reasons are very specific.

Laws make it difficult to impossible for people who don't have an interest in the will to make a claim that would prevent the rightful heirs from being able to get what they are due. Whether you are thinking of challenging a will or you are the person who has to deal with the will contest, here are some points to remember.

Continuous estate planning important for accuracy

A proper estate plan requires the right ingredients. Attention to detail, an understanding of the importance of a will and open communication with heirs are all essential steps of creating a successful plan. Unfortunately, there is one important part of estate planning that many people in California forget about -- updating.

Wills, living wills and even trusts are not necessarily set-it-and-forget it forms that can be checked off of a to-do list and then forgotten about. This is especially true for those who have significant assets and business interests. When these types of interests are structured in such a manner where multiple jurisdictions might be involved, careful wording and small tweaks are often needed over time; otherwise changes in both law or business holdings could be adversely affected.

The truth about trusts

There are a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to certain estate planning documents. Trusts are a great example. Many California residents may not understand how they really work; therefore, they may be afraid to use them.

There are at least five common misconceptions about trusts. The first has to do with estate taxes. Many people tend to think that the only reason to set up a trust is so that estate taxes can be minimized or avoided. While this is a benefit to utilizing a trust, it is not the only reason to have one.

Achieve asset preservation through estate plan modification

After taking the time to put an estate plan in order, who really wants to think about it anymore? Most people do not. Unfortunately, it is hard to achieve asset preservation if one's estate plan is not kept up to date. California residents can help themselves by reviewing and updating their estate planning documents on a fairly regular basis.

A lot can change in one's life over the course of just a few years -- particularly for successful business owners or members of well-to-do families. Unfortunately, according to studies, most individuals with estate plans have plans that are more than five years old. Why does that matter?

Asset preservation through estate and Medicaid planning

There are a number of reasons as to why numerous California residents may need long-term medical care. Age, illness, incapacitation -- they happen, and sometimes living out the rest of one's life at home is just not a viable option. Unfortunately, long-term care can be quite expensive and there are concerns that Medicaid will try to assume one's assets in order to pay for care. However, asset preservation may be achieved through careful estate and Medicaid planning.

Medicaid is a government sponsored insurance program that is available to the disabled and economically challenged. In order to qualify, a person's combined income and assets can only add up to so much. Medicaid and private insurance are also the only types of insurance that will pay for long-term care. Medicare simply does not.

Estate planning for them and for you

Most people create their estate plans with only their loved ones in mind. The truth is, though, that estate planning is not just for them. Whether one resides in California or elsewhere, an estate plan is about protecting one's future and one's voice, not just about protecting assets and beneficiaries.

Everyone knows that, at some point, they are going to die. It is inevitable. So they make plans for how their assets are to be distributed when it actually happens. Many people fail to think about what will happen to them and their loved ones should they become incapacitated. This is a mistake.

What do executors do?

During the estate planning process, it is common for an individual to select the person or person's he or she wishes to have handle his or her final affairs. Those named to such roles are known as executors. Individuals in California and elsewhere who have never had the privilege of holding such a role may want to know exactly what executors do.

Executors have a tough job, but it is also an important one. They are responsible for ensuring that all assets are accounted for and ready for distribution to beneficiaries. They are charged with making sure taxes and creditors are paid. They also have to take steps to resolve any claims made against an estate -- among numerous other tasks.

Estate Planning: Overcome age barriers by exploring the benefits

Planning for certain future events can seem somewhat intimidating, potentially causing some individuals in California and elsewhere to put the process off until a later date. Life may be full on unexpected changes, and having a plan in place could prove beneficial in avoiding certain undesirable consequences. Estate planning may be a solid idea for many individuals, regardless of age, and a person might overcome hesitation by taking the time to consider its potential benefits.

One's initial thoughts on estate planning may go directly to how property is divided upon death. However, there are actually numerous benefits involved in the process, some of which may not have anything to do with finances. For example, in the event of a medical emergency, a plan can cover a person's wishes concerning the type of care he or she receives, and can also assist in ensuring a power of attorney is in place should one be required.

Importance of keeping wills and other estate plans up to date

Many individuals in California and elsewhere place a high priority on planning for the future. However, in some cases, simply putting a plan into action might not be enough, as certain changes in life could spark a need for adjustment. To avoid any undesirable consequences down the road, a person might find it beneficial to update wills and/or other estate plans should the need arise.

There are many changes in life that could create a need to update information on one's estate plans. Important life experiences such as marriage or the birth of a child could be some examples of such circumstances, and beneficiaries may need to be added or changes accordingly. Alternatively, a divorce or the death of a love one can create a similar need.


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