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FAQs about estate planning in California

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2023 | Estate Planning reported that as many as 2/3 of Americans have no estate plan in place. If you are one of the 1/3 of Americans who started planning their estate, you know that it is an important aspect of financial and personal preparation.

For many, the process can seem overwhelming, leading to a host of questions.

What is estate planning?

Estate planning involves deciding how you want to distribute your assets after your death. This process includes not just your financial assets, but also real estate, personal possessions and even your digital assets. It can also determine how your loved ones should make healthcare decisions if you cannot make them yourself.

Do you need a will?

Having a will is essential. In California, if you die without a will, state laws determine how to distribute your assets, which might not align with your personal wishes. By creating a will, you can specify your preferences.

What is a living will?

A living will, known as an advance health care directive in California, lets you specify which medical treatments you want or do not want if you become incapacitated. This document ensures that medical professionals and your loved ones understand your wishes regarding life-prolonging treatments.

How can you reduce estate taxes?

California does not impose a state estate tax, but depending on the value of your estate, you might still owe federal estate taxes. Proper estate planning, like setting up trusts, can help reduce or even eliminate these federal taxes.

Can you change your estate plan?

Life changes, such as marriages, births or major financial shifts, likely prompt changes in your estate plan. It is essential to review and update your plan regularly to ensure it aligns with your current wishes and circumstances.

Understanding the basics of estate planning can help ensure your loved ones respect your wishes. By addressing these frequently asked questions, you can take control of your assets and decisions, providing peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. Remember, estate planning is not just for the wealthy; it is a responsible step for anyone wanting to look after their family and assets.