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Changing a will not enough to avoid probate in California

When you consider how many people with significant estates die each year in California without a will, you may think you are well ahead of the curve just by having a will in place. In the grand scheme of things, this is true. You certainly are better off having a will than no will at all, but it is not enough to make your wishes known in a will if the underlying assets you name require additional documentation.

Avoid these estate planning mistakes

Imagine working a lifetime to build your wealth. You spend countless hours working the Bay Area in order to create a strong stock portfolio, buy a house and accumulate various other assets. But, what happens to your wealth if something should happen to you or if you pass away? Have you taken the appropriate steps to protect your property and your heirs?

Is it time to review and update your will?

You've already taken the step of creating a will, which sets you apart from a surprising number of adults throughout the country. If you only recently created your will and have yet to experience any major life changes, you probably have no great need to review it.

Can you prevent your heirs from contesting your will?

You've taken steps to plan for the needs of family and loved ones when you pass on. Creating an estate plan, last will or trust can help ensure that your assets are divided in the way you see fit. Unfortunately, even the estates of people who took great pains to carefully plan their last will can end up in probate court. All it takes is one unhappy family member or heir to contest your last will, trust or estate. When that happens, there's potential for probate courts to deviate from your wishes.

The ABCs of federal estate taxes

The idea of estate taxes can be troubling. If you have extensive property that has a value of $10 million or more (if you are married), estate taxes can become a very real concern. However, for some people, estate taxes are never an issue.

Your rights as a surviving spouse

Most states, including California, have laws in place to protect surviving spouses and other potential heirs to a decedent's property. This means that if one spouse dies, the other still has inheritance rights even if a will was never written or an existing will never updated.

3 common causes of fights over an estate

Your loved one is getting older, and the last thing you want to see is a family fighting over the inheritances and estate left behind. There are many reasons that people fight over estates. Some disputes come out of nowhere, but it's more likely that they have been brewing for some time.

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