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When should I begin planning my estate?

Some of the first images that come to mind when you hear the words “will” or “estate” may be elderly couples, mansions, or vast amounts of land. Rarely does one think these things will become pertinent before the age of 45. The truth is, estate planning can be important much earlier in life! Millennials have a few common things to consider when it comes to planning for their estate: homeownership, guardianship, healthcare decisions, etc..

If you have bought a home or purchased a couple acres of land, you are more than qualified to begin the estate planning process. Frankly, any large asset that isn’t included in a will or trust can become an object of divisiveness for your family should something happen to you.

Similarly, your children could be left without a legal guardian (or proper guardianship) unless you specify how and by whom you’d like them to be cared for.

Married and unmarried partners alike run the risk of being kept out of healthcare decisions if they don’t establish a healthcare power of attorney. Preparing for unexpected tragedies can relieve the burden of making decisions amidst grieving and/or adjusting to new family dynamics.

Reach out to an estate planning expert at Celaya Law who can help you decide how to best prepare for your future.

It has become more and more common for people to name Co-Agents in their Power of Attorney documents. Recently, we prepared a Power of Attorney for a client who named her two children as co-agents in her Power of Attorney. After executing the document, the client brought the executed Power of Attorney to her bank to have it added to her account. The bank representative informed her that the financial institution could not accept the Power of Attorney because it named Co-Agents. Had the client not brought the Power of Attorney to her bank when she had capacity, she would not have known that the financial institution would not accept it. If she had lost capacity, that would have been a serious issue! To resolve this issue, we re-drafted the Power of Attorney to name a single Agent and then an alternative Agent. If you have a Power of Attorney that names Co-Agents, you may want to check with your bank to make sure they accept it as a valid legal document.

Let the knowledgeable and trusted attorneys at Celaya Law help you with all of your Attorney needs.

We recently had a client who was named the successor trustee of her uncle’s trust and had the task in administering his Trust. All of the uncle’s assets were in the Trust except for a large bank account with no beneficiary designations. Typically, when a bank account (over $166,250) has no beneficiary designations and not titled in the Trust name, the bank account has to go through probate. In this particular case, we were able to avoid probate altogether, by preparing a Heggstad Petition. A Heggstad Petition is used when an asset is excluded from a deceased person’s Trust. The court is petitioned to transfer the asset (that should have been titled in the name of the Trust, but was not) into the Trust after the decedent has passed away. In our client’s case, we were able to show that there were multiple attempts by the uncle (before his death) and his Agent, in his Power of Attorney to move the bank accounts into trust. In the end, the Heggstad Petition was granted as we were successful in moving the bank account into the uncle’s Trust and also avoid probate!

Contact Celaya Law today and schedule a time to talk with a trusted Probate Attorney. 707-492-3112 or online Here

Though you may be spending your Thanksgiving eating tons of delicious food, watching football, and taking a long tryptophan-induced nap, this may be the perfect time to discuss estate planning and let family members know about your future plans. It’s a time when families get together anyways and though it might not always be lighthearted, families are at least willing to dedicate a certain amount of time together.

It is a good idea to give the family a bit of a warning that a family meeting of some sort will be happening during the holidays, so there is not an element of surprise. Having this discussion will alleviate the possibility of having lingering tension between children rise to the surface after a parent passes away, which often times leads to the estate’s settlement becoming a battle ground.

With a proper discussion amongst family members in which you lay out your specific wishes and desires, your family will be in a better position when you pass away. It is unlikely that you will resolve all issues at the dinner table on Thanksgiving; however, it will allow you and your family to have a calm conversation, which will allow everyone to listen to different perspectives and will also keep the lines of communication open.

 

Schedule a time to talk to an Estate Lawyer at Celaya Law today and let them help plan for your future.

What is a guardian? A guardian is the adult who is legally responsible for the needs of a minor. In California, you can only become a guardian if you are appointed by the court.

There are two types of guardianship. The first, is guardianship of the person, which means the guardian has custody and responsibility for the minor. The second, is guardianship of the estate, which means the guardian has the legal responsibility to manage the assets of the minor. When a person is appointed as a guardian, he/she has the responsibility of caring for all of the minor’s needs which includes: food, shelter, education, health care, and well-being. The guardian will also be able to make medical decisions concerning the minor. Typically, a guardianship lasts until the minor turns 18.

In order to make sure there are no issues or hiccups in the guardianship process, you want to make sure you hire an estate planning attorney to prepare the necessary guardianship documentation and to guide you through the process. Some good reasons to hire a qualified estate planning attorney is if you think some family member will challenge or contest the guardianship, if the minor stands to inherit a substantial amount of assets at your death, or if the minor is emotionally of physically disabled.

The National Estate Planning Awareness Week is almost upon us! This is a public campaign designed to help people understand why estate planning is so crucial. Often times people avoid planning for their death because the topic is uncomfortable to think about or the discussion with loved ones is too difficult. Another common misconception is that a trust is only for the wealthy, which is not true! If you have assets such as a house, bank accounts, and investment accounts; or have loved ones that depend on you, it’s a good idea to starting thinking about creating an estate plan.

Are you interested in learning what documents are in an estate plan? Contact our experienced attorneys at Celaya Law and we will walk you through the crucial documents that make up an estate plan.

Celaya Law keeps up to date with what is going on, on both the local and federal level. Your Estate Planning attorney at Celaya Law can help answer questions about what new bills have been passed or on their way to review that might cause big Changes. Below is just one current change that is coming:

With a new administration comes new proposed tax changes. One of the biggest changes that may take place with this next administration is with the federal estate tax provisions.

On September 13, 2021, a tax bill was sent to the House Ways and Means Committee that included provisions to reduce the federal estate tax. The bill included language to reduce the unified credit. Specifically,  the language reflected the unified credit against estate and gift taxes would be reduced to the 2010 level of $5,000,000 per individual. This would be effective for estates after December 31, 2022. Currently, the federal  estate tax applies to assets over $11.7 million. If this proposed tax change did occur, it would have a significant impact on individuals’ estate plans.

While this is a proposal and not yet signed into law, it does reflect the intent of the committee; therefore, every person should have their estate plans reviewed to ensure it is up to date. Contact Celaya Law, to have your current estate plan reviewed.

 

 

Though it is critical for your family, assets, and legacy- estate planning tends to fall to the bottom of people’s to-do lists. Even with an estate plan in place, it’s a good idea to have your estate plan reviewed, especially if you have experienced significant life changes (marriage, divorce, you have moved, etc.) Below is checklist to use in determining if and when you should have your estate plan reviewed:

Changes in Residency

Have you moved to a new state? Estate laws vary in different states, so it’s a good idea to review your estate plan to make sure it complies with local laws and regulations. You should also update your address and keep your family informed of where your documents are held.

Changes in the Law

Estate laws change over time. You should have your estate plan reviewed to see if it has been affected by changes to any state or federal laws.

Power of Attorney and Advance Healthcare Directive

Is your Power of Attorney and Advanced Healthcare Directive Up to Date? You should make sure the designations are up to date and accurate as well as your wishes.

Trusts

If you have a revocable trust in place then you should review trustee and successor trustee appointments. Also, you should have your trust reviewed for the estate and inheritance tax limit as that changes from time to time.

Contact Celaya Law to have a qualified estate planning attorney review your estate plan to make sure it is up to date with the current law and your wishes.

As with any subject, there tends to be common misconceptions. One subject that tends to have a ton of misconceptions is the topic of nursing homes and your assets.

Knowing the truth about the following misconceptions regarding nursing homes and your assets will help you and your family plan better for an elder care situation.

 

Misconception #1: “If I Put My Assets in the Joint Names with my Children, the Assets Will Be Exempt For Nursing Home Purposes”

The truth is, you are considered the owner of any assets that you add your children’s names to and this includes assets that were put in joint names years ago. Certain creations of joint assets will disqualify you from receiving Medi-Cal benefits for a period time.

 

Misconception #2: “ I Can Give Away $14,000 Per Person Per Year Without Any Penalty”

The truth: This amount is a Federal gift taxation limitation. It has nothing to do with Medi-Cal eligibility as the rules for Medi-Cal gifting are entirely different. All gifts that are divestments (no matter the amount) will create a penalty.

 

Misconception #3: “I Was Told My Only Choice Was to Spend Down My Estate”

The truth: It is almost unnecessary to spend down. There is an advanced way to plan to protect your assets and that is through proper Medi-Cal planning that an experienced estate planning attorney can discuss with you.

 

Misconception #4: “If I Am In A Nursing Home Already, It is Too Late to Protect My Assets”

The truth: You can ALWAYS protect your assets, no matter how long you have been in a nursing home. We have assisted lots of clients in getting qualified for Medi-Cal, who were actually in a nursing home, privately paying. If you or your spouse are in a nursing home and the other spouse lives at home, you can usually protect almost all of the assets for the stay at home spouse. You will need to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney in order to protect your assets for Medi-Cal qualification.

Contact Celaya Law to speak with a qualified estate planning attorney to learn how you can protect your assets and still get qualified for Medi-Cal.

There are several reasons why you need an experienced elder law attorney.

An elder law attorney focuses on array of specific needs of aging adults, which include:

Your loved one may need assistance in Medi-Cal planning and protecting their assets. Some people are mistaken in thinking they have to spend down all of their assets to qualify for Medi-Cal. If you seek the assistance of a qualified elder law attorney, you can plan early and have more options.

An elder law attorney can also provide a wide range of estate planning options. It is important to update your estate plan and have it reviewed often to ensure that it accurately reflects your wishes. Also, it is important to discuss long-term care options with an elder law attorney so that you can make important key health decisions before any health complications arise.

Contact the experienced elder law attorneys at Celaya Law to discuss your elder care concerns.