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Bay Area Estates and Tax Law Blog

Insider’s view: forgoing attorney to self-draft will not smart

An estate planning insider recently writing on that topic for Forbes sought to underscore a point on self-drafted wills by making an analogy to an electrician.

Christine Fletcher notes in her piece that she, like legions of other do-it-yourself types across the country, could successfully do any number of technically oriented things by following online instructions that are readily available these days.

Trust administration: making the right trustee selection

A recent Forbes financial article stresses that financial planning “can become intricate and emotionally fraught for high-net-worth families that have a lot at stake.”

We have underscored that important point in many of our prior blog posts at the Bay Area Law Offices of Connie Yi, PC. And we have advised our valued and diverse band of California readers that they can craft a number of strategies to purposefully and effectively deal with planning complexities.

Do you need to pay taxes if your parent lived in another state?

When your remaining parent passes away, you know things are bound to get complicated. They have a significant amount of wealth that all has to get passed on to the next generation. It's going to take time and effort to sort it all out, even though you know they have done some of their estate planning.

One big thing that you're wondering about is whether you're going to have to pay estate taxes at the state level. Will there be any liability there?

The revocable trust: controlled, flexible and private

Many people in the estate planning world will eagerly offer arguments opposing a writer’s stated view that a revocable trust “is essentially a will replacement.”

That author -- an industry insider – makes a number of cogent arguments to advance that point in a recent Kiplinger article spotlighting revocable trust basics, but they are open to discussion, of course. The bottom line concerning any will-versus-trust debate for most people seeking a true analysis likely centers around the tested insights that can be offered by a proven estate planning attorney.

What does dive down into charitable contributions reveal?

The numbers are now in, and they paint “a pretty stark picture.”

So says a principal with Giving USA, a decades-old foundation that provides routinely relied-upon data relevant to charitable giving across the United States.

Are you tempted by do-it-yourself estate planning?

Legions of people in California and nationally routinely sidestep contacts to professionals in lieu of trying to accomplish a particular goal on their own.

Examples of that can be quickly supplied, and across a broad front. Some individuals put "for sale by owner" signs in their front yards, making best efforts to sell their homes without input from a realtor. Lots of people make a go at personally managing all their money matters without consulting a financial adviser. People cut their own hair, try to remedy plumbing problems on their own, self-medicate when sick and make forays into all manner of renovation projects without help from contractors. The list goes on.

What are key planning concerns for some aging LGBTQ couples?

Legions of LGBTQ individuals across California and nationally have estate planning concerns that are no different from those on the minds of their “straight” friends, family members and acquaintances.

Planners everywhere and from every demographic typically want to preserve assets and ensure property distribution to selected heirs and loved ones. They want to lawfully avoid tax outlays when possible. They seek confidence garnered through careful selection of trusted parties to make key financial and health decisions for them in the event they become unable to do so themselves. Many planners focus on gifting, charitable bequests and establishing a meaningful legacy.

Profit from avoidance of these estate planning minefields

The estate planning realm in California and nationally is sadly replete with stories spotlighting unfortunate outcomes linked with planners’ lack of preparation.

Here’s one: An individual with adult children remarries and fails to update a will and other relevant instruments. That can easily leave a mess and resulting litigation between a widow and those kids from a former marriage.

The ramifications of not having an estate plan

Without a doubt, one of the worst things that a parent can do for their children is to pass away without an estate plan. It makes the situation complex and stressful for their heirs. This is already a difficult time since they just lost a parent, and it's made much worse by the fact that they can't focus on mourning or coming together as a family. Instead, they have to worry about things like paying taxes and splitting up assets.

Naturally, it's also possible for children in this situation to make costly mistakes. They're feeling emotional. They're stressed and busy. Are they going to overlook assets or make other errors that cost the family dearly? It happens. Sometimes, it's too late to go back.

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