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The Top Things People Forget in Estate Planning

Creating an estate plan is never something to take lightly. Even if you’ve already written a will or estate plan as part of your contingency, are you sure you have everything documented? There are so many different aspects that it can get confusing at times, which is why a Tracy trust attorney will always recommend checking your estate plan for any issues. More often than not, most people forget a few things that could cause trouble when the estate plan comes into effect. Here are the key points people overlook in the estate planning process…

Remember Alternate Beneficiaries

Keep in mind that if the original beneficiaries are unable to claim the assets designated for them in your estate plan, it will be up to the government to decide. It would be a shame for the important people in your life to lose out on your estate plan because alternate beneficiaries were not included.
The crucial thing about naming alternate beneficiaries is that it adds a “plan B” to the original outline. After all, things do not always run smoothly, and only time can tell what the future holds.

Make Arrangements For Your Pets

Without a doubt, any Tracy trust attorney will also remind you to consider your pets. Pets are some of the most beloved members of the family. It’s a very real risk for pets to become displaced due to mistakes in estate planning. When documenting your estate plan, ensure that you also consider where your beloved pets will go. It is one of those things that many people tend to forget due to the grim subject matter. So much heartache can be avoided by considering the placement of your pets, and their care.

Exploring Digital Assets

As strides are being made for more and more assets to be transferred into the digital environment, it can be risky to leave digital assets out of a written will or estate plan. Keep in mind that digital assets are also a legacy that can be transferred to others. This is why a Tracy trust attorney will tell you it’s crucial that you consider digital assets during the estate planning phase.

Are There Family Heirlooms?

Surprisingly enough, one of the most common things to get lost when an estate plan isn’t prepared properly is that precious family heirlooms are misplaced. Such possessions are not necessarily expensive, but they are often worth their weight in gold when it comes to sentimental value. Don’t allow your family to be deprived of such personal items.

Your Tracy Trust Attorney

Tracy trust attorneys understand how easy it can be to forget something important when it comes to estate planning. From pets to heirlooms, be thorough when documenting your estate plan! For questions or help with your estate planning needs, please contact our office at (925) 447-1250.

5 Facts About a Living Will For Medical Emergencies

You may already have a will set up for the end of your life, but have you considered you may need a living will? Living wills are legal documents that specify what to do in the event that you are seriously injured or sick and become unable to make decisions for yourself. These documents are sometimes referred to as an advance healthcare directive. Here are five key facts to understand how they work.

Naming Someone to Act on Your Behalf

You can use your living will to designate another person to make important decisions for you. Most people choose a spouse or another trusted family member. It’s also possible to designate a healthcare agent to make decisions about your medical treatments if you become unable to do so. Some people opt to give this person broader power of attorney to make any legal decisions on their behalf.

The Details of Your Healthcare

In your living will, you can specify various details regarding your healthcare treatment. For example, many people choose to add specific directives regarding pain management.

Talk to Your Doctor

You should always discuss your living will with your doctor. When your physician is aware of your arrangement ahead of time, he or she can make better decisions about your care in a medical emergency.

It’s Not Written in Stone

You can always change the information provided in your living will. However, you will need to make sure that you legally revoke the previous document in order for the new draft to be effective. Remember, it’s important to review your documents to make any relevant updates. Changes depend on your life circumstances.

Who Needs a Living Will?

Anyone can benefit from a living will. Many people think they’re too young to need one, but the unfortunate reality is that a medical emergency can strike at any time. It’s simply the best way to ensure your treatment preferences are honored.

Your Living Will

Although it’s unpleasant to think about medical emergencies, it’s important to prepare for anything so your family won’t be left to make difficult emotional decisions under pressure.

If you’re interested in setting up a living will in the Bay Area, contact Lewman Law at (925) 447-1250. We can help you protect your family.

The Top 5 Reasons for Probate Court

You may be wondering if you’ll need to go through the probate process. It’s one of the most common questions people have when a loved one passes away. Probate laws differ by state, so it’s important to discuss your unique circumstances with a reputable estate planning attorney. However, here are some of the top reasons for probate court to help you determine if it’s necessary in your case.

An Invalid Will

Probate court is necessary whenever a will is deemed invalid, but there are various reasons for why this occurs, such as the following examples…

  • Mental Incompetence: The deceased wasn’t mentally competent when the will was drafted, calling the document into question.
  • Improper Execution: The will was either unclear or not made legal.
  • Undue Influence: There’s speculation that the deceased was under duress when the will was revised or created.

No Will?

If there isn’t a will, the probate court is needed to sort out the deceased’s belongings. It’s a legal process to distribute assets and transfer titles of property. Unfortunately, there’s no other way to accomplish this.

Designated Beneficiaries

It’s common for beneficiaries to be named. For example, on retirement funds, or life insurance policies. However, if none were designated, or they’ve since died, probate is required.

Sole Ownership

When assets are owned solely by the deceased individual, probate court is generally required to transfer property to a beneficiary’s name.

Tenant in Common or Joint Tenancy

Another reason probate may be necessary is if assets were owned as either a tenant in common, or a joint tenancy. What this simply means is that the deceased owned property with someone, like in a common law marriage.

Our Probate Court Services

If any of these common reasons for probate apply to your personal situation, we can help. Or, for more information about probate and how to avoid it, please contact Lewman Law at (925) 447-1250.

Creating an Estate Plan During the Pandemic

The pandemic crisis is causing more people to consider their estate planning needs in this time of worldwide uncertainty. Alarmingly, America now has more active cases of COVID-19 than any other nation. Symptoms remain mild for most people. But our lives have been disrupted in a way that has forced us to collectively consider our own mortality. The following are some thoughts on the importance of having an estate plan during this global emergency.

Why it Matters

Everyone’s situation is unique, but planning ahead offers all of us more peace of mind. Each state has its own intestacy laws, which determine who receives your property in the absence of an estate plan. Essentially, if you don’t leave behind a will, the state makes one for you.

Maybe you live with a partner but choose to remain unmarried, or you have children from a previous relationship. Family dynamics are often complex. Unfortunately, without legal documentation, it’s highly unlikely your wishes would be fulfilled if you were to become suddenly sick during the pandemic.

Also, keep in mind that states have separate execution requirements. For example, does your state require one or two witnesses? Can documents legally be notarized online?

Other Documents for Pandemic Preparation

Of particular importance during the pandemic are documents that go into effect while you’re still alive, such as a health care surrogate, living will, or power of attorney.

Most people understand a POA authorizes someone to act on your behalf. A health care surrogate is similar in that it appoints someone to make health care decisions for you if you’re no longer able to choose for yourself. Sadly, this is a critical aspect of estate planning, especially now because many people are intubated during treatment for COVID-19.

How We Can Help During the Pandemic

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed right now. No one quite knows what to expect, and the news changes by the hour. But it’s better to have some kind of plan in place, rather than no plan at all. It can always be revised as circumstances evolve. Stay safe, and for help getting your documents in order, please contact our office at (925) 447-1250.

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