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Newport Beach Estate Law Blog

Tips for talking to your adult children about their inheritance

As you create an estate plan, you'll spend a lot of time thinking about what will happen to your assets upon your death. Like many, you may have plans of leaving your assets to your adult children.

You're not required to talk to your adult children about their inheritance, but it's often a good decision to do so. This ensures that everyone is on the same page.

Think about these things when choosing a guardian

There's a lot to think about when creating an estate plan, including who you will name as guardian of your minor children. While you hope that this will never be necessary, you must cover all bases and name a guardian nonetheless.

Here are five things to think about when choosing a guardian for your children:

  • Parenting style: Choose a guardian with a parenting style that is similar to yours. This will ensure that your children maintain some level of stability, even if you're no longer around.
  • Shared values: The things that are important to you in life should also be important to the person you name as guardian.
  • Financial stability: It's not the only thing to consider, but you don't want to name a guardian who doesn't have much financial stability in their life. This can throw them for a major curve, while also putting your children in a difficult spot.
  • Age and health: You don't want to choose a guardian who has health problems and/or is approaching the end of their life. It's best to focus on people who are around your age and in good health.
  • The people are willing to help: You may have someone in mind, but the individual isn't willing to be named as guardian of your children. Make a list of people who are willing to help. From there, narrow your options and ask for permission before making a final decision.

Common special needs for young children

It is not always immediately clear that a child has special needs, nor do these issues impact all children in exactly the same way. Two children may suffer from the same type of disorder and see vastly different levels of severity, differences in how well these needs can be overcome and different physical or mental changes as they grow older.

That said, it can help to understand what some of the most common issues facing today's children are. These include:

  • Delayed development
  • Language delays
  • Speech issues
  • Cognitive or mental delays
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Learning differences or challenges
  • Distinct learning disabilities
  • Emotional disorders and trouble handling emotions
  • Social disorders

Why it is important to review estate planning before a vacation

One thing many people do as the end of the year approaches is plan their vacations for the coming year. Sometimes these vacations will take place in exotic locations in the far reaches of the globe. One thing you may not have considered during all the preparation and excitement of your trip is taking time to review some very important documents.

Reviewing your estate planning documents before a vacation is one of those things you feel you can put off, but if something happens, you will be angry at yourself for not doing. After all, estate planning is taking care of your family, so here are a few of the items you should review and have completed prior to taking off.

Follow these year-end estate planning tips

Estate planning is not something you focus on once a year. Instead, it's important to keep a close eye on your plan at all times, as you never know when you need to make a change.

Here are several year-end estate planning tips that can keep you on track:

  • Review your beneficiaries: This is a big part of any estate plan, so make sure everything is in order as the year winds down. You may find that making a change to your beneficiary designations is a must, such as if someone has passed on.
  • Review your incapacity plan: There is more to estate planning than what happens when you pass on. Your incapacity plan ensures that you receive the proper care in the event that you're unable to make your own medical decisions.
  • Look into other options: For example, if you have a will, you may want to consider the benefits of a trust. You don't have to take action, but learning more about other options will ensure your estate plan is the most effective it can be.
  • Consider the impact of significant life changes: Did you divorce? Did you get married? Did you have a child? These types of life changes, among others, will impact your estate plan.

Don't forget your estate plan when you divorce

If you're working to get your divorce finalized before the beginning of next year when the new tax changes take effect, you're probably consumed with that process. However, don't forget that as a divorced person, you'll likely need to make some significant changes to your estate plan -- if you have one.

If you don't, it will be more crucial than ever to establish one. A Gallup poll in 2016 found that more than half of Americans have no estate plan -- not even a will. Without one, your estate will need to go through California probate court. This will be a time-consuming, costly, stressful process for your loved ones at what will already be a difficult time for them. Further, your assets will be distributed to your family based on state laws in a manner that may or may not be what you would prefer.

4 benefits of leaving money in a trust

Deciding how to leave your money to your heirs is important. Many people assume that it simply involves writing a will stating who gets what assets, and that's the end of it.

Certainly, you can do it this if you want, but you do have many other options. For example, you can put your assets into a trust, which then owns the assets and distributes them for you. Why would you want to do this instead of just using a will?

Will you avoid these 5 estate planning mistakes?

Even with the best intentions, you could make an estate planning mistake that costs you and your loved ones time and/or money. Fortunately, when you're familiar with the most common mistakes, it's easier to avoid a bad situation.

Here are five estate planning mistakes that have plagued others before you:

  • Waiting too long: When you're young, you don't want to think about estate planning, but this is when you should learn more. You can make changes as you age, just make sure you have the basics in place early on.
  • Forgetting to update your estate plan: Don't assume that the first estate plan you create is the one you'll keep in place the rest of your life.
  • Not planning for incapacity: You could become ill or injured to the point where you're unable to make your own decisions. Incapacity planning ensures that the right person steps in to make decisions on your behalf.
  • Not naming a guardian for your children: This is a must if you have children under the age of 18. If you don't do this, there's no way of knowing for sure where your children will end up if you and your spouse pass on.
  • Choosing the wrong executor: This is the person in charge of your estate once you pass on. You must choose a trustworthy, responsible and caring individual to serve in this capacity.

No, it’s not stupid to set up a trust for your pets

Pets are more and more intertwined into our families, and it shows. You can buy pet health insurance, get your favorite animal a custom bed and even send them to their own spa.

It’s no wonder more and more owners are considering what happens to their beloved animals if they outlive the owner. That’s why it makes sense  to consider a trust for your furry family.

Estate planning after an unexpected windfall

This month, Americans were once again consumed by a Mega Millions jackpot as its value continued to rise to become the second largest in history. Some lucky South Carolina lottery player is now $1.5 billion richer. Even if it's being split among a dozen co-workers, that's a considerable windfall.

While most of us aren't going to find anywhere near that amount of money falling in our laps, a lucky weekend at a casino or an unexpected inheritance can leave people wealthier than they ever imagined and with some important decisions to make.

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