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Redlands California Estate Planning Blog

The difference between living wills and living trusts

The law is sometimes confusing to California residents because the names of completely different legal documents may sound very similar. This is especially true in the area of estate planning. Living wills and living trusts sound like they would both serve similar purposes, but they are actually used in very different situations. Using the term 'will" to describe a living will also causes confusion as the provisions of the document go into effect while its drafter is still alive.

A living will, also referred to as an advance medical directive, is drafted to address end of life issues and lets doctors know when medical treatment should be terminated. The document does not apply to care that improves comfort or reduces pain, but it does deal with medical intervention that would, or could, prolong life. Prolonging procedure declarations are at the other end of the legal spectrum. These documents tell doctors to keep treating their drafters until all health care options have been exhausted.

Aretha Franklin's children take legal action

Many music fans in California have continued to appreciate the work of Aretha Franklin since her death in 2018. However, some have expressed reservations about her estate planning skills. There is still an ongoing legal dispute over who should have control of her estate. One of the singer's sons filed a restraining order against Franklin's niece to stop her from taking any further action on behalf of the estate. Her other son has asked to be named a co-executor of the estate.

Franklin's niece claimed that she found three handwritten wills in May 2019 at the singer's home. The son who filed the restraining order says that the will written in 2014 named him the executor of the estate. Another of Aretha Franklin's sons reportedly agrees with that assessment. It is also alleged that the names of the current executor and the son who asked to be named a second executor to the estate were crossed off of the 2014 will.

Do your parents need an elder law attorney?

Those who work in the elder law field deal with myriad issues facing senior citizens. These issues can range from protecting them from physical and financial abuse to helping them secure assets and find appropriate housing to meet their changing needs.

It's quite likely if you have elderly parents that an elder law attorney could help you out considerably as you try to make your parents' lives easier.

Estate planning for chronic illness

One of the many important legal documents California residents who are chronically ill should have in their estate plan is a living will. This document allows individuals to expressly state their health care preferences. In addition to addressing decisions regarding end of life care, it can state whether individuals have certain religious beliefs that would affect the health care they receive or if they do not want any restrictions on the treatment they receive.

People with chronic medical conditions can alter the general language of a living will to detail the specific conditions they have. They can also detail at what stage their condition is and how the condition may progress. Their desire to receive experimental treatments can be mentioned as well as whether the agent appointed under a financial power of attorney is responsible for funding such treatments.

Using a trust

When developing their estate plans, California residents should strongly consider using a trust. One type of trust solution, the revocable, or living, trust, is often chosen.

A revocable trust can be easily amended, which can be beneficial to people who have children. As their children grow older, settlors may reconsider certain parts of the trust they created. Estate plans, including trusts, should be regularly reviewed every five years at the least.

Blue Water veterans covered for Agent Orange conditions

On June 25, 2019, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 was signed into law by President Trump. Veterans who live in California might be entitled to disability benefits. The legislation, which was championed by the American Legion, is designed to extend benefits to certain veterans for several conditions that have been connected to exposure to Agent Orange.

Anyone who served on the ground in Vietnam or within a distance of 12 nautical miles of the Vietnam coastline had already been extended coverage by the Agent Orange Act of 1991. If the veteran has been diagnosed with diabetes, Parkinson's or certain cancers, the condition is presumed to have been caused by exposure to the chemical. The reference title for the bill is H.R. 299; it will also give pension benefits to the spouses of some veterans who died because of service-related disabilities.


accounting-finance-hand-921783.jpgFew of us feel delight when we hear the term "tax code". However, there has been some recent excitement in the area of trust taxation and administration that we all should direct our attention to.

Trust income, like an individual's income, will be taxed in states with income taxes. The focus of the recent developments concentrates on the taxation of an out-of-state trust's undistributed income, not what income is actually received by the trust's beneficiaries. There is no uniform treatment of trust taxation between the states - the process is state specific. Some states have developed statutory schemes that permit the taxation of an out-of-state trust when a future beneficiary happens to reside within its bounds. However, other states have found that such policies violate due process. This circuit split has led to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to accept a case that will determine the constitutionality of such state taxation structures. This case, N. C. Dept. of Revenue. v. Kaestner Family Trust, No. 18-457 (N.C. filed Oct. 9, 2018), will define a benchmark for the taxation of undistributed income on trusts with out-of-state beneficiaries.

When trusts are better than wills

From an estate planning perspective, it may be better for California residents to have a trust as opposed to a will. One of the benefits of a trust is that it can help those who become disabled during their lives. Instead of having a guardian appointed by a judge manage a disabled person's affairs, the trust can name a person to fulfill this role. When an individual does die, assets can be transferred without a need to go through probate.

This means that there will not be a will contest or other significant legal wrangling. Furthermore, the trust is a private document that is not open to inspection by the public. By keeping assets in a trust, there is no need to go through probate in each state where a person lives or owns property. This can make it easier for a trustee or other surviving family members to settle an estate after an individual dies.

Is long-term care insurance an option as you near retirement?

The care people need as they get older often becomes more expensive. Nursing homes can cost thousands of dollars a month, while skilled in-home nursing support can cost hundreds of dollars an hour. Unfortunately, those expenses usually arise at a time when the ability to earn money is much lower than it was in years before.

Individuals who need substantial care as older adults will likely have no way to earn the money necessary to cover those costs. In other words, they must have already set aside or saved adequate resources to cover the costs of nursing home care and other long-term care needs.

Estate planning is important for parents of young children

Many otherwise responsible adults can make the avoidable mistake of delaying critical estate planning decisions for too long. None of us truly know how much time we have in life. Even the healthiest adult can become the victim of a crime or wind up fatally wounded in a car crash or workplace accident. Medical issues, like a heart attack or stroke, can also strike with little warning.

Although you may likely have a long and healthy life ahead of you, assuming that you won't have to plan for the future until you get closer to retirement age can leave the people who depend on you in vulnerable positions. Those people include your spouse and your children.

Secure Your Future & Your Loved Ones’ Future By Planning Today.

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