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California Estate Planning

California estate planning allows residents to establish healthcare directives and retain control of assets in the event of their death. Estate planning outlines who will be in charge of administering the estate and which heirs will receive assets.

California estate planning is no different than establishing protocols in any other state. The only difference is California residents must adhere to established probate laws. Probate is regulated on a state-by-state basis. The primary difference between states is the amount which determines what constitutes a 'small estate.

In California, small estates refer to estates valued under $100,000. In many cases, small estates are exempt from probate. In order to make distribution to intended beneficiaries, the estate administrator must submit an affidavit to the probate court and complete the 40-day waiting period.

Individuals who do not execute a Will may unwittingly create numerous problems for heirs. This is particularly true when estates are large or consist of valuable assets. When a person dies intestate (without a will) assets automatically transfer to the decedent's successors. California's laws of intestate succession are outlined in Probate Code sections 6401-6402.

Keeping this in mind, if you have direct lineage relatives that you do not want to receive assets it is imperative to engage in estate planning. When heirs are intentionally left out of Wills, a statement of reasoning must be included. This can be as simple as stating, "I have intentionally disinherited my son, Joe."

The reason this is important is because "Joe" could contest the Will in court, stating you were under the influence of another when the will was executed. When heirs contest the will, probate can drag on for months and financially deplete the estate, leaving nothing for anyone except attorneys.

Another important aspect of estate planning is to establish healthcare directives. In addition to executing a Will, individuals should establish a Healthcare Proxy and designate Power of Attorney. These legal documents allow people to state what healthcare measures should be taken or avoided in the event they become critically ill or unable to speak for their self.

Individuals appointed with Power of Attorney privileges should thoroughly understand your wishes and be able to adhere to those directives on your behalf. Power of Attorney grants individuals with the right to refuse medical treatments to prolong your life. It is important to select someone who can make difficult decisions under tremendous stress.

Engaging in estate planning allows you to designate a probate executor and gift your belongings to intended beneficiaries. Without these directives, a probate judge will determine who receives assets. Don't leave your estate in the hands of outsiders. Take time to engage in estate planning. Doing so can eliminate family feuds and allow family members to receive distribution of assets in a timely manner.

Feel free to browse our estate planning article library to learn what is involved in executing a Will and medical directives. We frequently add new articles and invite you to stop by often. Enter your email address in the subscription box located on the right side of this page to receive instant notification when new articles are posted.

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Published on May 02, 2009 at 02:52 AM

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