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Don't forget your online accounts when creating an estate plan

You, like most other California residents, likely conduct at least a portion of your life online. These days, it seems like you can get an online account for just about anything, from grocery shopping to your retirement account. You may not feel the need to have everything you do completed online, but you still appreciate the convenience.

Of course, now that you are starting your estate plan, you do not want to forget those online accounts and other digital assets when you are creating that plan. You may not think your social media accounts need including in your estate plan, but really, they do.

Have you considered the benefits of having an estate plan?

Beginning an estate plan is often easier said than done. Though you and many other California residents understand the importance of having an estate plan in place, you may feel uneasy about thinking about your demise or feel uncertain about how to begin getting such affairs in order. As a result, you may put off planning longer than is wise.

If you have already delayed in creating your estate plan, you may want to keep in mind that getting started sooner rather than later could prevent confusion and hardship for your family later on. It may help you to consider some of the benefits of estate planning if you need an extra push to get started.

Probate litigation can occur due to a breach of fiduciary duty

As a San Diego attorney, you always want to do your best for your clients. In some cases, that may mean referring your clients to another attorney in your area because you do not handle their specific type of case or cannot take on the case at the current time.

Though you have experience in estate planning and feel confident in helping interested parties get their affairs in order, you may not take on probate litigation cases. As a result, if a client or a family member of a former client finds an issue with a probate case that may require litigation, you may feel the need to pass the case along rather than take it on yourself.

The fate of a small business after its owner dies

If your parent was passionate about the California business he or she built from the ground up, you likely spent many dinners and holidays hearing stories about clients or jobs that made your loved one particularly proud of the work he or she did. Your parent had a knack for the industry he or she chose, and whether you shared this interest or took a different path, you may have given little thought to what would happen to the business if your parent died.

Dealing with a small business after the death of its sole proprietor may be a complex legal matter as well as an emotional one. If you have decided to try to keep your parent's business operating, you must take the appropriate legal steps to protect the business as it is and learn what you must do to transfer the business to your name.

5 questions to ask when on the fence about estate planning

Depending on your circumstances in life, you may be among the many people who feel that you do not need to create an estate plan. You may think that your loved ones will automatically know what to do with your belongings after your passing and to generally settle your final affairs. However, you may want to remember that California state laws will play a role in how your final affairs are settled if you do not create a plan.

In addition to not wanting the court to decide who gets what and who handles your affairs, you may have more reasons to create an estate plan than you think. If you are on the fence about starting the planning process, you may want to ask yourself some questions.

Do beneficiaries wait on information from an estate executor?

If you have recently lost a loved one, you likely feel somewhat lost. The person may have been a major facet in your life, and now, you wonder how you will get on without him or her. Of course, you likely also have concerns about how the remaining estate will be handled.

If you are not the executor of the estate, you may feel a bit on the outside of the legal process. However, if you believe that you are a beneficiary of the estate, you have the right to information about what steps the executor is taking to complete the process, and if the estate goes through probate, the executor must notify you and other beneficiaries.

Are you sure you can handle the role of executor?

A loved one's passing can take a significant toll on any California resident. Everyone deals with grief in his or her own way, and it can prove challenging to work through such an experience. Of course, some parties may have more to address during this time if they choose to take on the role of executor of the estate.

If a loved one has asked you to take on this role, you may immediately want to accept it because you do not want to offend your loved one or make the situation more difficult. However, you need to understand what you could be setting yourself up for. Probate can be a long and difficult process to complete, so you may want to ensure that you have the qualities and abilities needed to handle it.

Will your estate be subject to federal taxes upon your death?

Estimates indicate that no more than 1% of Americans will even need to consider whether estate taxes will be an issue upon their deaths, and some of them could live right here in California. If you are among those with an estate valued at greater than $11.4 million as a single person or $22.8 million as a couple for the 2019 tax year, then you may need to know what you can do to avoid paying estate taxes or at least significantly reducing them.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will increase these exemptions each year until 2025, at which time the amount drops drastically. More than likely, you intend to live well beyond 2026, so now would be a good time to begin planning. In order to keep your estate from owing a substantial amount in taxes, you first need to understand what makes up your estate. Fortunately, California does not have an estate tax for you to worry about.

A parent's dementia diagnosis may spark need for estate planning

Parents love having the ability to watch their children grow. Over the years, however, the tables often turn, and adult children watch their parents age and sometimes struggle with illness and mental decline. While facing this type of situation, you may have many emotions and want to help your parent as much as possible.

In addition to assuring that he or she has the right care for the stage of Alzheimer's or another form of dementia from which your parent may suffer, you may also want to consider encouraging the creation of an estate plan. If your parent passes without a plan in place or reaches a state of incapacitation, serious complications can arise.

What life events may mean you need to update your estate plan?

As an adult in California, you need an estate plan. In fact, adults anywhere and of any age can benefit from creating plans no matter their family dynamics or financial situations. These instructions can prove immensely useful to family members when the time comes to handle your care needs or settle your estate.

You may feel that you are ahead of the game because you have already created your estate plan, but it is not wise to simply create a plan and never revisit it. In fact, several life events could present the need to update your plan to suit your current circumstances and wishes.

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