The time has come. You realize that you need to discuss estate planning with your elderly parents. No one wants to have this conversation, but you realize that it's the responsible thing to do.
Most people don't consider estate planning an exciting activity. In fact, they'll do anything to avoid thinking about it.
For most people across California, one of their main objectives when working on their estate plans involves figuring out how to leave as much of the wealth they have amassed behind for their loved ones as possible. At the Law Office of Stephen W. Penn and Associates, we understand that there are several different steps you can take to accomplish this, one of which involves reducing the amount of tax assessed against your estate after your passing.
As a reasonably well-to-do Californian, you likely want to pass your estate down through your family in the most advantageous ways possible. If you have not yet considered one or more generation-skipping trusts as vehicles by which to do this, you may wish to educate yourself on the advantages this type of trust offers.
When you set about instructing your attorney on how to draft your California last will and testament, you must possess the necessary testamentary capacity to do so. The word testamentary relates to anything having to do with a will. Therefore, as explained by the Orange County Bar Association, testamentary capacity means the mental capacity you need to have in order to make a valid will.
If you have a disability, you know that it is important to have numerous benefits and government programs available to you, especially Medicaid. However, as you may also know, having significant assets may cut off your eligibility for Medicaid and other programs and benefits. What can you and other Californians do to stay eligible for Medicaid without losing your assets?
If you are a reasonably well-to-do Californian who has already done some estate planning, you likely know that the types of trusts you can incorporate into your estate plan are almost limitless. Regardless of their specific type, however, all of them fall into the same two categories: revocable and irrevocable. You can alter any of the provisions of your revocable trusts, or even revoke them, any time you wish after originally establishing them. Once you establish an irrevocable trust, however, you cannot make any changes to it in the future.
If you agreed to take on the responsibility of becoming someone's trustee or the executor of his or her California estate, you became a fiduciary whether you realized it or not. A fiduciary is one who holds and manages assets for the benefit of someone else, in this case, the grantor's beneficiaries or the testator's heirs. As fiduciary, you must put aside your own interests and work only for the benefit of the trust or estate, as well as its beneficiaries or heirs.
If your well-to-do California parent requires the services of a live-in caregiver due to age, illness, injury or infirmity, you likely feel relieved that (s)he can afford such care. On the other hand, however, you may have developed a nagging suspicion that this caregiver is exerting too much influence on and control over your vulnerable parent. You may even fear that (s)he might convince your parent to change his or her will.
Your parents are intelligent and raised you to make wise financial decisions. Therefore, it can be shocking and heartbreaking to discover they fell prey to the type of scam that targets the elderly or the naïve. It might be hard to confront the fact that your parents are becoming vulnerable to financial abuse, but it is crucial for you and other California residents to consider options to protect loved ones from this common and insidious type of abuse.