By this time, it may be that nearly every California resident has at least one beloved pet that he or she cherishes. The emergence and official declaration of the American romance with domesticated pets was finalized in the past few years by the social media platforms where all nature and manner of pet adoration has been displayed. It may be that pets are even earning money on YouTube. It is therefore not surprising to see that many people are engaging in estate planning that includes seeing to the care and welfare of their domestic pets should they predecease their animals.
In California and elsewhere, one of the key planning issues for an individual or married couple is choosing who to serve as executors, trustees, power of attorney agents, health proxies and other positions. Ideally, the estate planning documents will include alternate choices if the first fails to serve or qualify. Generally, people choose their immediate family members or closest friends. Occasionally, they may select an institution for all or some of the duties.
A California resident may have many different considerations when making up an estate planning checklist. One purpose of the list is to go over it with one's estate planning attorney in making up an initial estate plan. The estate plan is intended to take care of decisions to be made if one becomes incapacitated and unable to act and in the case of death.
California residents who engage in estate planning often ask questions about the difference between a health care power of attorney and a living will. Generally, people have little understanding of what each does until they meet with their estate planning attorney for a review of their needs. A living will generally is a legal instrument that the individual signs and that expresses his or her concerns about end-of-life decisions.
A person's concern for the beneficiaries of his or her estate will be best appreciated by not leaving an estate of cluttered personal possessions. In California and elsewhere, this may lead to personal altercations among beneficiaries, and to burdensome expenses and wasted time in resolving the estate. Estate planning may be facilitated by disposing of some personal possessions prior to one's death.
It was probably inevitable that Michael Jackson's estate would become embroiled in extended battles with the IRS over the value of his assets in California and elsewhere. One major sticking point is the value of Michael's name and likeness. Because these have the continuing potential to earn income, the IRS has contested the $2 million value listed by the executors. This issue may not have been amenable to estate planning protections, but other issues being fought out might have been better planned by his estate planners or perhaps better handled by his executors.
Every California resident would be best served by having a durable power of attorney signed and ready to implement if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to handle his or her financial affairs. The person appointed in the instrument is called the agent, and that person is endowed with a reservoir of authority allowing him or her to do specified things on the principal's behalf. This is a key protective measure that is nearly always made a part of the individual's estate planning framework.
In California and nationwide, polls reveal that more than half of Americans do not have a will. That is a lot of people being left unprotected and facing uncertain results should a loved one die or become incapacitated without the benefit of estate planning. A will is only one tool in a varied arsenal of legal instruments designed to bring the maker peace of mind. That same feeling of satisfaction is also bestowed on the person's loved ones and chosen beneficiaries.
Estate planning in California must often look at the question of long term care. This can be an expensive proposition and there are few options out there for financing long term care should it become necessary. One way to prepare for estate planning on the issue of long term care is to purchase long term care insurance to pay for home care and/or institutional needs when the time arises.
All states, including California, provide statutory mandates when an estate is filed without a will. When a person with few relatives and no children dies without a will, the administrator of the intestate estate will be mandated to distribute the assets according to state law. This means that the person's assets may be given to relatives who may have been estranged from, or little known to, the decedent. Basic estate planning can avoid that result.