Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law
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September 2014 Archives

Named beneficiaries override will

Many California readers are familiar with the main documents used in estate planning. They are the will, the living will, the financial power of attorney and the health care power of attorney. Even if a person has what they believe is a legal, indisputable will, his or her heirs may not get assets intended for them. That is because the beneficiaries named in numerous financial documents have precedence over what is stated in the will.

Reasons to include trusts in an estate plan

California residents may want to include trusts in their estate plans whether they are wealthy or not. Trusts allow an estate to be settled without going through the costly and time-consuming probate process. Trusts can also be used to shield an owner's assets from creditors.

Decisions about good and bad assets in estate planning

A California resident may be surprised to discover that some assets are not worth keeping, even if there are sufficient funds saved for living expenses during retirement years. Other assets are so valuable that they should be held as long as possible. The determination of an asset's value in an estate is primarily connected to tax implications at one's death. An asset that appreciates without that appreciated value being taxed is one of the best options to keep. Those assets that will create a tax burden for an individual or their heirs are more suited for liquidation during the owner's lifetime.