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San Jose Estate Planning Blog

Frequently asked questions about paying the debts of an estate

Acting as the executor or administrator of someone’s estate is rarely an easy task. They are entrusted with important tasks that must be carried out for assets to distribute as the deceased intended. One of those tasks is paying off any debts attached to the estate. 

Changes in your life can necessitate changes in your plans

You may be of the mindset that once you establish your will, you are prepared for the future. However, while having a will is an essential part of your estate planning process, making sure to update your will can be equally important as your living and family situations change over time.

Certain changes within your family unit or financial situation can alter the way you want your estate handled after your passing. They may also change the beneficiaries to whom you would like to designate your assets. But how do you know when you need to update your will?

Three reasons Californians might wish to avoid probate

For many Californians, an essential goal of their estate planning is avoiding probate. However, unless someone spends much of their time examining estate law issues, they might not know why so many people wish to avoid the probate process. Today, we aim to demystify probate by discussing the primary reasons a person might want to keep their estate out of the process.

How to choose the right conservator for your estate

Few among us want to think about what will happen in the event we are suddenly incapacitated. Who will ensure we get medical care according to our wishes? Who will pay our bills?

In many states, the terms “conservator” and “guardian” are used interchangeably. However, in California, the person who oversees the affairs of an incapacitated adult is known only as a “conservator.”

Giving to charity in your estate plan

A contribution to charity provides all sorts of benefits, both to you and the cause to which you’re donating. In addition to supporting an important cause, donors often also receive tax benefits. By incorporating charitable giving into your estate plan, you can extend these benefits beyond your lifetime. Below, we outline some of the ways Californians can give to charity through their estate planning.

How to prepare the inventory and appraisal for an estate

One of the most important steps for someone administering an estate is completing the inventory and appraisal of the deceased person’s property. They provide this information to the state using the Inventory and Appraisal Form, which includes two attachments. The attachments are the essential part of the form, as they are the actual lists of assets.

Today, we cover the essentials of the California Inventory and Appraisal form.

How often should I review my existing estate plan?

Estate plans work best when they are up to date. This means that creating your estate plan is only part of the estate planning process. You must also review your estate plan regularly to make sure that it still reflects your current wishes, abides by current laws and utilizes the most effective strategy for your current situation.

Many people choose to review their plan with a professional annually. This can help ensure that any necessary updates are made in a timely fashion, including updates that may be needed due to changes in estate planning laws. However, there are also a variety of life events that should trigger an immediate estate plan review.

First-party v. third-party special needs trusts

One of the nice things about trusts is that there are so many different kinds. It is safe to say that California families could find a variety of trusts that fit their individual needs. 

In fact, many of those trusts include different kinds within one type of trust, including special needs trusts.

Preparing for taxes in your estate plan

Many of us have heard the old saying, “Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.” Sometimes, the two go hand in hand. When creating an estate plan, it is essential to consider tax implications for your property and assets. Today, we look at the essentials of “death taxes” in California.

How is guardianship different from conservatorship?

People often ask us, “What is the difference between a guardianship and a conservatorship in California?” In many ways, the two accomplish the same goal. Both are a process where the courts give someone legal authority to manage another person’s affairs. However, the duties and responsibilities involved vary between the two, as does the age of the person the court seeks to protect.

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