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San Jose Elder Law Blog

Do you need a living trust? Think about these facts

When you're building an estate plan, one part of the plan that you might want to develop is a living trust. Living trusts, which can also be called inter vivos, are trusts that can be revoked by the trust's creator. You can use that trust for as long as you'd like during your life (and to your benefit). After you pass away, it then passes on to your beneficiaries.

There are positives and negatives to creating living trusts. If you're not familiar with them, here's a short run of information on the benefits you might enjoy by having one.

Update aging adults' estate plans to reflect their changing lives

The contents of a last will or estate plan reflect the unique dynamics within a family. They also represent the deepest wishes of the adults that make them. An individual may feel strongly about certain ideas when they first create an estate plan or last will, but life has a way of changing the plans people make.

As people age, their families and relationships may shift. From a falling out with one of their children to the death of a spouse, there are many circumstances that necessitate changes to a last will and estate plan. Deteriorating physical or mental health can also require adjustments, particularly in cases where an individual may eventually require nursing home care or Medicaid to cover their medical costs.

Have your parents covered all the issues in their estate plan?

When you were younger, your parents probably had to have difficult conversations with you and did their best to push you toward making responsible decisions. Now that you are older and your parents have aged, you may find yourself supporting your parents and teaching them.

This role reversal can sometimes prove to be awkward, especially if you have to talk to your parents about something you find difficult, such as estate planning. Considering your own mortality is difficult enough, but trying to talk to your parents about when they die can be a very uncomfortable conversation. However, it is a necessary and important one.

What if your parents die without a last will or estate plan?

Most children tend to assume that their parents have their lives together. You imagine that your parents have taken all the necessary steps to protect themselves and their legacy as they age. However, even the most responsible and proactive adults can fail to adequately plan for their golden years.

Some people put off estate planning or the creation of a last will until well after they retire. Others may simply never get around to making one. It's even possible that your loved one created a last will but put it somewhere that you can't find or can't access.

How to speak to your parents about planning their estate

If you are aware that your parents have not yet made an estate plan, or if they have not shared details with you about their plan, you may be concerned on their behalf.

It is reasonable to have concerns, because planning an estate can put provisions in place regarding health care and their preferences for treatment if they become unable to make their own decisions.

How does the probate process work in California?

Many individuals preparing for retirement choose to establish a will to allocate their hard-earned assets to deserving beneficiaries. Establishing a will constitutes a responsible decision, as you can feel content in knowing that your property and money will lie in safe hands after you pass away. Especially for those with substantial assets, wills allow for peace of mind, as you can determine exactly how your assets will face distribution.

In California, when you establish a will with assets worth over $150,000, your property will face the probate process. The procedure ensures that your will is truly your valid last will and testament, and it recognizes and distributes your assets according to your wishes. The process can take months, but probate makes sure that your exact beneficiaries will receive your designated generous gifts.

Accounting for your parent's financial future

Here you are: the strong, independent person your parents hoped you'd become. You take care of yourself, your family, your finances and you've saved considerably for the future.

Part of your strength comes from your foresight as it relates to estate planning. You appreciate just how critical it is to secure funding for your future. As you look ahead to your golden years, you imagine having everything you need. Just when you think you've taken every asset and liability into consideration, you start thinking about your parents and if they have enough for everything they need.

Planning for an aging parent to live with your family

Long-term care for your elderly mother is out of the question. You firmly believe that it’s your duty to take care of her in the last few years of her life, allowing you to spend more time with them. But there’s another factor: a financial one. Long-term elderly care can be costly.

Once again, you will be living in a multi-generational home. You remember your childhood days when your grandmother lived with you, so you may be accustomed to certain aspects of this new living arrangement that may disrupt parts of your home life.

Typical duties of an estate executor

The exact duties that are given to the estate executor may vary a bit, depending on precisely how the will is written and what desires the deceased had for the estate. However, there are some standard duties that are typically involved, and it's important to have a good grasp of how this process works if you're tasked with that responsibility.

For instance, the executor is the one who takes the assets from the estate and gives them to those who are named in the will. Until this is done, the executor is in control of these assets and keeps them safe.

Know all that you should put into your estate plan

Your estate plan is vitally important. No one like to thinks about dying, however, your family will certainly thank you for taking the time to get your estate plan done.

When you work on your estate plan, think carefully about the points you include in it. Many people think only about physical assets, but forget about some other important points.

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