Strategic Estate Planning

Proper estate planning requires that you contemplate various scenarios in determining where and how your assets should be distributed. To that end, it is imperative that you attain proper guidance with respect to estate distribution so that your assets are divided up precisely as you dictate. The Oakland Wills law firm of Melanie Tavare is an experienced estate planning firm that can help you devise the perfect estate plan for your individual circumstances.

Non-Probate Assets

Even if you properly drafted a will that is airtight according to California law and standards, certain assets are non-probate assets. Thus, your will would pass through probate while those assets will automatically be distributed to certain beneficiaries.

California law states that assets held in a joint tenancy are not subject to probate. These assets include a bank account held in the name of the testator and a spouse, domestic partner, or anyone else, and will automatically pass to that person upon the passing of the testator. Similarly, a deed on the house that includes the name of the testator and the testator’s spouse, domestic partner, or child will automatically pass to the spouse, domestic partner, or child when the testator dies.

Life insurance and retirement benefits also pass directly to the named beneficiary without undergoing the probate process.

Therefore, when a California resident is preparing a will and considering the proper strategy for an estate plan, you should consider the entire picture. Do you own a house? Who else, besides for yourself, is listed as an owner of the property? Do you have a joint bank account with someone? Who are the beneficiaries of your life insurance and retirement plans? If you are not happy with those people receiving those benefits or feel that it creates inequality in how you would like your assets distributed, you should discuss it with your lawyer. You may need to take action to remove names from deeds, banks accounts, etc. so that the distribution will be to your liking.

Consider the Personalities of Your Beneficiaries

While it is impossible to know what the future will hold when your beneficiaries will inherit  your estate, you should contemplate the likely outcomes of how they will behave. Often, people who are the nicest and finest will act shamefully when inheriting from an estate. Still, how you view them should determine how you allocate assets.

Sometimes, beneficiaries will to go to war in Probate Court. These situations often lead to situations in which assets are diminished over the course of the litigation. Sometimes, however, beneficiaires get along or are willing to get along to speed up the probate process.

When beneficiaries agree about the distribution of assets, the California Probate Code allows for unsupervised probate. This method allows for a cost effective distribution of assets because Probate Court supervision is not required. Assets are distributed quickly, cheaply, and people can move on with their lives. Unfortunately, many family dynamics are not right for this to occur.

Considering drafting a will? You should work with a lawyer who considers all scenarios. Speak with the law firm of Melanie Tavare, an Oakland Wills lawyer.

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