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Gold River California Estate Planning Law Blog

Important estate planning steps for new parents

While creating an estate plan is a smart move for just about anyone, certain situations in life arise that make drafting one even more critical. Having your first child is one such situation. While you may find yourself distracted for a while with adjusting to life with a newborn, you would be wise to devote attention to this important matter as soon as you reasonably can.

Creating, or updating, your estate plan once you have your first child can help you navigate a broad range of important matters. For example, you can use the estate plan to dictate who you would like to care for your child in the event you can no longer do so. Additionally, you can use your estate plan to figure out ways to maximize the amount of your wealth you are able to leave behind for your child or other loved ones, among other objectives. So, what types of estate planning steps may you want to consider taking once you become a first-time parent?

Final arrangements and estate planning

Thinking about how you want your property and other assets distributed after your death can be difficult enough. However, during the estate planning process, your attorney may ask you if you've given any consideration to your burial plan preferences.

This is as good of a time as any to think about what you want to happen to your body after your death. Do you want your organs donated? Would you want to be cremated, with your ashes scattered off the coast of Big Sur? Is there a family plot you'd like to be buried in? Do you want a small, private funeral or a big party with all of your family and friends celebrating your life?

Why California parents should include a special needs trust

Estate planning is a wonderful opportunity for a young family to provide for future security. One of the more distressful concerns is a child with special needs. Parents realize the child will likely need long-term care. How can they ensure the best future for their special needs child?

Perhaps naming a guardian is a good idea--although there have been several news stories of guardians who have taken financial advantage of special needs children and adults. It may not be wise to place so much financial power into the hands of one person.

The big reason an incentive trust may not work

When people talk about incentive trusts, they often point out the benefits: You get to help your heirs become the best versions of themselves, and then they get their inheritance when they follow the path you set for them. Incentives could include refraining from illegal drug use, getting a college education, starting a business, starting a family and much more.

That sounds good, but these trusts are complicated and may have unintended consequences if you don't really think through the potential outcomes. What if something you didn't expect keeps the person from meeting the conditions of the trust? For instance, if the condition says they have to graduate from college and then they suffer a brain injury in a car accident, do they not get the inheritance? Certainly, that's not what you want, but it may be what happens.

Writers and agents are battling in court over packaging fees

People who make their living writing for television shows and movies have agents who represent them, just as actors do. Many agents work for large talent agencies. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is suing the four primary agencies over their use of packaging fees, which the WGA says violate federal and state law and shortchange writers.

The agencies charge studios packaging fees for a group of professionals in different fields, including writers, actors and directors. The plaintiffs, who include writers of some of the most popular TV series in recent years, claim that agents are more interested in putting together these packages than in representing their individual clients.

Will your estate planning documents survive a disaster?

Here in California, we know that between earthquakes and fires, the possibility of our home being destroyed is, while unlikely, nonetheless a very real possibility. The most important thing in a disaster is to get all of the people and animals out of the house safely and grab a few irreplaceable mementos if possible.

Many Californians store important legal documents in their homes. If those are destroyed or lost in a disaster, it can be extremely time-consuming and difficult to replace them. Fortunately, it's easier than ever to keep digital copies of all of our important documents. However, if our computers are lost, unless those documents are saved using cloud-based technology, things like password lists can be lost forever.

Caring for your unmarried partner with an estate plan

Maybe you and your partner are living the Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell or Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham life: You're longtime loves who simply decided never to marry.

That lifestyle works for couples everywhere, and even if they don't need a marriage certificate, they do need one legal document: an estate plan.

Luke Perry's death provides estate-planning lesson

We so often hear of celebrities who haven't created an estate plan and how their family members wind up in court, fighting over the assets, when they die.

Actor Luke Perry, who died March 4 in Southern California following a massive stroke, apparently had his estate plan figured out. He was 52.

How to make estate planning easy—and why it matters

Do you wish you could predict the future? You can, using a successful estate plan. The future is coming, whether you provide for your loved ones or not. Formalize your wishes in an estate plan. Peace of mind comes when you are in control.

Well-meaning people die every day without leaving an estate plan. You probably do not want to leave your family guessing how to best settle your affairs. Your estate plan represents a lifetime of work and goals for your future. Do not wait to take this important step.  

Wealthiest Californians would see estate taxes rise under bill

A California state senator has sponsored a bill that would ask Californians to vote on whether the state should implement a tax on the estates of the richest residents.

Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, is proposing a 40 percent tax on estates worth more than $3.5 million for individuals or $7 million for couples.

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