Estate Planning – Wills, Trusts, and Probate

Did you know that Robin Williams’ widow challenged his estate plan? This may seem even more unbelievable after you find out that she was completely provided for! In today’s information seeking society, it’s no surprise that this made front page news: Robin Williams is arguably the funniest man in history and a millionaire to boot.

What you may not know is that this doesn’t just happen to those who gain celebrity status. In fact, there are a multitude of reasons that your estate plan could end up in probate court.

Whether you’re a billionaire or of more modest status, there’s a lot to consider when planning for a smooth transfer of your estate to your heirs. An estate plan should be tailored to each unique individual or family. In this era of yours, mine, and ours planning ahead can help save money and family relationships once you’re no longer here.

The legal process that takes place after someone dies, called probate, can be costly and eat away at the inheritance you thought would go to your family. Estate planning can help to avoid costly probate and allow your assets to transfer to your heirs without getting held up in a lengthy court process.

You can take steps now that will limit the likelihood of challenges upon your passing. Including provisions in your will and trust can discourage beneficiaries from arguing over who gets what. One common way of doing this is to include a no contest clause. This means that if one of your heirs stands to inherit $15,000, but tries to sue the estate, he could wind up with nothing.

Discussing your estate plan with those provided for in your plan is a good idea. The first time your child learns about how your property is going to be divided should not be when they are mourning the death of their parent(s).

Make your intent clear in your estate plan- why are you making the plan, what do you want to happen. If you are making certain decisions, have it be known why you are making these decisions.

Remember, once you are gone no one will be able to ask you. Sometimes this can be done through conversation, sometimes in is better done in a letter kept in the estate plan that can be read. I think this is especially important when there are unequal divisions of property. For example: if one child is not getting a cash gift because you previously gave them the down payment for a house, explain that….

Planning for your family’s future can be intimidating, but it’s so important. If you have questions about your estate plan, need an update, or would like to create a plan, don’t wait to call your local attorney.

Rachel King
Attorney at Law

King Law Firm
41690 Ivy Street, Suite B
Murrieta, CA 92562

Office (951) 834-7715
Fax (951) 319- 7129

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