Estate Planning as a Couple with an Age Difference

Estate Planning as a Couple with an Age Difference

When you are married to someone who is significantly older or younger than you, planning for the future can be different for each of you. To make sure you and your loved ones are protected, it’s important to have a detailed financial and estate plan. To make sure your plan works as intended, you should have an open and honest conversation with your spouse about important financial and estate planning topics.

About Employment

It is important to discuss your employment plans with your spouse. Your job may provide you and your spouse with health insurance and income, but it can also take up a significant amount of your time.

If you or your spouse are currently working, it’s important to talk about what you both want to do in the future. If one or both of you plan to retire or stop working soon, you need to consider how it will affect your lifestyle and future plans. Additionally, if you both have different aspirations for retirement, it’s important to discuss how you can compromise and find activities that you can enjoy together.

About Financial Management

As a married couple, it’s important to discuss your retirement plans and make sure your financial future is secure. Retirement means the loss of one type of income and many people rely on their retirement accounts to provide a significant portion of their retirement income. However, this requires advanced planning and open communication between spouses.

When discussing retirement, it’s important to consider when you plan to retire and whether you can afford to stop receiving a paycheck. If you are unsure, meeting with a financial planner can help ensure your finances are in order. Additionally, you should consider whether there will be a period of time when both of you will be retired or not working, and whether you will have enough money from other sources to support your lifestyle during this time.

Another important topic to discuss is when you plan to withdraw the required minimum distributions from your retirement accounts. A financial advisor can help you determine the best strategy given your current account balances and your desires for the future. Finally, if there is a significant age difference between you and your spouse, it’s important to discuss whether the younger spouse is anticipating using the retirement funds from the older spouse for their lifetime as well, and whether there will be enough money to support both of you.

About Estate Planning

Creating an estate plan is important because it ensures that your loved ones are taken care of when you die. Without an estate plan, your state’s laws will determine how your money and property will be distributed, and who will make decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. When reviewing or creating your estate plan, there are several important things to consider.

Firstly, you need to decide who will serve as your trusted decision-makers, such as your executor, successor trustee, agent under a financial power of attorney, and agent under a medical power of attorney. Because of the age difference between you and your spouse, it is advisable to name alternates to these positions in case your first choice is unable to act on your behalf. If you have children from a previous relationship, you should also consider if and in what order you want to name them to one of these important decision-making roles.

Secondly, you need to decide who you want to receive your property and money after you die. If your spouse is your beneficiary, you need to consider whether you want them to receive the inheritance outright or in trust. If you plan to leave an inheritance to your children, you need to decide whether they will receive it immediately after your death or after your surviving spouse’s death.

Lastly, if you have children from your current marriage and previous relationships, you need to consider if you want them to be treated the same when it comes to inheritance or if you want to give preferential treatment to one group. These are some of the important issues to think about when creating your estate plan.

If you have any questions or are ready to move forward with creating your estate plan, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Schedule a meeting below.
Is probate required when a spouse dies?

Is probate required when a spouse dies?

The answer to this question is it depends. It depends on how assets were held during the marriage by the spouses and it also depends on what types of assets the deceased spouse had in his or her name.

Now there are a number of ways to deal with assets that were owned by a deceased spouse. One way is that if the value of those assets is lower than the threshold for a small estate, then the surviving spouse may use a small estate affidavit to transfer property.

The surviving spouse also might be able to use what’s called a spousal set aside, which is similar to a quickie or a short form of probate.

The third way that a surviving spouse can avoid probate is to have already established a revocable trust and have the trust owning the assets of the married couple.

Quick Question Corner is a video segment where we answer common questions about estate planning and elder law. If you have similar questions, leave them in the comment section and we can feature them in one of our videos in the future.

When should you prepare a will for your assets?

When should you prepare a will for your assets?

Now, for most people, having a will is a foundational and fundamental part of an estate plan. You’ll want to do this once you turn 18 years old, even if you don’t have a lot of property. You want to indicate who gets what so that the state doesn’t control who gets what. You would rather be in the position of making those choices than having a judge make that choice. And so you should have a basic will once you turn 18 and become an adult.

Quick Question Corner is a video segment where we answer common questions about estate planning and elder law. If you have similar questions, leave them in the comment section and we can feature them in one of our videos in the future.

What does it mean to transfer your house to a trust?

What does it mean to transfer your house to a trust?

Well, if you’ve set up a revocable trust, you need to transfer certain of your property to the trust and especially your house. To transfer your house to the trust, you need to prepare or have prepared a grant deed, sometimes called a trust transfer deed. This is a document that changes ownership from you as an individual to you as trustee of your trust. This document gets recorded in the county recorder’s office where you live or where the property is located.

Quick Question Corner is a video segment where we answer common questions about estate planning and elder law. If you have similar questions, leave them in the comment section and we can feature them in one of our videos in the future.

Planning for the Financial and Non-financial Aspects of Life

Planning for the Financial and Non-financial Aspects of Life

Typically, when one parent stays at home to take care of the children and household, they are responsible for several tasks such as taking care of the kids, cleaning the home, driving family members to events, cooking meals, shopping for the family, and managing household tasks like scheduling appointments and planning events.

While these tasks may not be valued as much as paid work, they are still important and require a lot of time and effort. If the stay-at-home parent were to become unable to perform these tasks, it would be difficult for the other working parent to do it all themselves without sacrificing their job or free time.

A Comprehensive Plan to Secure Your Family’s Future

To protect your family and finances, it is important to plan ahead in case an unexpected event happens. It is important to have a team working with you when planning.

Start by figuring out how much it would cost to replace the stay-at-home parent’s work if they were no longer able to do it. A financial advisor can help you with this and guide you on making contributions to retirement accounts.

Next, it’s important to meet with an insurance agent to determine the right amount and type of insurance you need, both for life and in case the stay-at-home parent becomes disabled or incapacitated.

Then, your certified public accountant or tax preparer can help you make sure you’re claiming the right credits and deductions and maximizing your family’s single income on your annual tax returns. By working with this team, you can create a comprehensive financial and estate plan that protects your family’s future.

A properly drafted estate plan can ensure that your money and property are protected and used in a way that matches your ultimate wishes.

Protecting Your Proceeds from Creditors and Predators

Our goal is to protect families like yours, and one way we do this is by ensuring that your life insurance benefits are safeguarded from creditors and others who might seek to take advantage of your beneficiaries. To achieve this, we recommend naming a trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy.

There are two types of trusts that can help protect these benefits:

1. Revocable living trust

A type of trust that you can create while you are alive, and you can change it until you pass away or become unable to manage your affairs. Usually, you are the person in charge of managing the money and property in the trust, and you can use it during your lifetime. If you become unable to manage your finances, someone else that you chose beforehand can manage the trust for you.

If you have accounts and property that are valued below the current lifetime estate tax exemption amount or if you have already created a trust, naming a revocable living trust as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy can be a good option. When you name the trust as the beneficiary, the life insurance policy’s death benefit will go to the trust after you pass away. The trustee will then use the money according to the instructions in the trust agreement, which we can help you create to better protect the money from any undesirable people, such as creditors or divorcing spouses of your beneficiaries.

2. Irrevocable life insurance trust

A way to protect your life insurance policy from estate tax and ensure the money goes to your beneficiaries according to your wishes. You can create this trust by transferring ownership of an existing policy to the trust or by having the trust purchase a new policy. You make cash gifts to the trust each year to pay the insurance premiums.

When you pass away, the trust receives the death benefit, and the trustee distributes the money according to the instructions in the trust document. This strategy is helpful for people who have assets valued close to or above the current lifetime estate tax exemption amount. By using this strategy, you can remove the value of the life insurance policy and death benefit from your taxable estate, which can save your loved ones money on estate tax.

We are passionate about safeguarding families and would be happy to assist you in protecting your own. Give us a call to schedule an appointment or schedule a meeting with us below.

Why Your Estate Plan Deserves as Much Attention as Your Resume

Why Your Estate Plan Deserves as Much Attention as Your Resume

A resume is a document that shows employers what experience, skills, and education you have, and how you might perform in a job. If you haven’t updated your resume in years, it might not accurately show your abilities. Similarly, estate plans need to be updated regularly to reflect changes in your life and the law. If you don’t update your estate plan, it might not work the way you want it to. So, just like with resumes, outdated estate plans won’t be very helpful.

Take a Moment to Reflect

Take a moment to think about all the things that have happened in your life since you last signed your will, trust agreement, and other estate planning documents. Have there been any changes that could impact you, your helpers, or your beneficiaries? If so, then your estate plan might need to be updated to account for those changes.

Here are some examples of significant changes that would require an estate plan review and possible updates:

  • A new family member that you want to provide for in your estate plan
  • You, a trusted decision maker, or a beneficiary got married or divorced
  • A loved one passed away or is now disabled
  • You or a loved one is now suffering some health challenges
  • Your trusted decision makers is now incapacitated
  • Your financial status has changed either for better or worse
  • You, a trusted decision maker, or a beneficiary moved to a new state

Don’t Procrastinate on Estate Planning

Most people tend to put estate planning at the bottom of their to-do list and forget about it once it’s done. However, estate planning is not a one-time task, it requires ongoing attention and review. It’s important to take the time to review your estate plan regularly, just like you would update your resume or meet with your doctor or financial advisor. By doing this, you can make sure that your estate plan is up-to-date and reflects your current needs and the needs of your loved ones.

To make sure that you actually follow through with this, you should schedule an appointment with us to review your estate plan. This way, it will be on your calendar and you won’t forget about it.

Updating your estate plan is the best way to make sure it will accomplish exactly what you want it to do.

Striking the Right Balance: When and How to Update Your Estate Plan

Striking the Right Balance: When and How to Update Your Estate Plan

If your life or the law has changed since you created your will or trust agreement, it’s important to update it. You can update a revocable living trust by either creating an amendment or by restating the entire trust agreement. An amendment changes a specific part of the trust, while a restatement creates a new set of instructions for the entire trust.

Although you might assume that an amendment is cheaper than a restatement, that’s not always the case. If you have a will, you can make small changes or updates by creating a codicil. Alternatively, you can create a new will with updated instructions.

Make the Small Changes or Start Over with a New Document?

Think of your estate plan as a recipe card that you’ve been using for years. If you’ve made a few small changes, it’s still easy to read and follow. But if you’ve made lots of changes, it might be confusing or hard to understand. Just like with a recipe, if your instructions aren’t clear, things might not turn out the way you want them to.

That’s why it’s important to be careful when making changes to your will or revocable living trust. If you’ve made too many changes, it might be better to start over with a new document to make sure your wishes are clear and easy to follow.

There isn’t a clear rule about whether you should use a small change document like a codicil or amendment, or a big change document like a new will or trust restatement when making changes to your estate plan. It really depends on the specific changes you need to make and how extensive they are. A general guideline is that anytime you are making more than two changes, creating a new will or restatement is probably better because of the following reason:

  • Fosters ease of understanding and administration;
  • Tends to avoid ambiguity;
  • Reduces the amount of paperwork to retain and provide to financial institutions or parties;
  • Decreases the risk of misplacement;
  • Prevents beneficiaries from discovering prior terms; and
  • Provides an opportunity to include other relevant updates, such as changes in the law.

We can help

If you’re thinking about making changes to your will or trust, it’s important to consider whether any previous changes might have unintentionally changed what you wanted or made it harder to manage your will or trust.

We can help you make sure your instructions are clear and easy to understand. If you have any questions, don’t worry, we can answer them for you. No matter what your situation is, we can help you figure out the best way to update your will or trust.

The Risks of Neglecting Your Estate Plan

The Risks of Neglecting Your Estate Plan

Life is unpredictable and certain events can have a significant impact on your estate plan. It’s a misconception that once you’ve created your estate plan, you can just forget about it. It’s important to consider how common life changes can affect your existing estate plan.

Birth of a Child or Grandchild

Many parents create their estate plan after their first child is born. But if their plan only includes their first child, the second child might not get their fair share without going to court. That’s why it’s important for parents to update their estate plan after each subsequent child is born.

Similarly, if a grandchild is not included in the grandparents’ estate plan, they may not be able to receive any of the benefits or opportunities that the grandparents wanted them to have. This could happen because of the family’s structure or how the estate plan was written.

Death of a Family Member

When creating a will or trust, different people play different roles: the person making the document (will or trust maker), the people who will receive something from it (beneficiaries), and the people responsible for making sure the instructions are followed (executor, trustee).

If any of these people pass away, it can impact the estate plan. For example, if a beneficiary dies, their share may go to someone else or their own descendants. It’s important to review your estate plan to ensure your wishes are still carried out.

It is also important to have backup people in place in case the person you named as the personal representative, executor, or successor trustee is unable to carry out their duties (even if it’s due to passing away before you). If you didn’t name any backups, then your loved ones may have to choose someone to take over, or a judge may have to decide who should be appointed. This could be especially difficult for families who tend to have conflicts.

Purchasing a New Home

If you have a trust-based estate plan, it’s important to make sure that all of your property and accounts are owned by the trust or named as a beneficiary. When you buy a new home, you need to remember to transfer it into the trust to avoid probate.

When you buy real estate, the title company may assume that you are buying it as an individual or as a married couple, so you need to tell them that you want to buy it in the trust’s name. If you forget to do this, you will need to contact your estate planning attorney to transfer the property into the trust after a successful transaction.

If you don’t put your property into your trust, then after you pass away, it will either go to the person who co-owns it with you (if you co-own it in a certain way), or it will have to go through a court process called probate if you owned it individually or as a tenant-in-common.

Marriage or Divorce

Getting married is an exciting time, but it can also be complicated, especially when it comes to money and property. You and your spouse may own separate property, as well as property that you accumulate together during your marriage. To avoid confusion and ensure that your wishes are carried out, it’s important to have an estate plan that outlines what property is separate and what is joint, what you want to leave to your spouse, and who should make decisions for you if you are unable to do so. If you don’t update your estate plan after getting married, a court may have to get involved to determine how your property should be distributed and who should make decisions for you.

If you get divorced, though, your wishes may change. To avoid any confusion, it’s important to update your estate planning documents after your divorce is finalized. This will ensure that your former spouse is not involved in your estate plan, even if they were previously named as a decision maker or beneficiary. It’s best to work with an estate planning attorney to update your documents and choose new decision makers and beneficiaries.

What is the probate process?

What is the probate process?

Probate is a court process where the judge sits essentially in a role as referee to make sure that the property goes to the correct people. Now, the correct people are either, first, the people who are listed in a will, or second, the people who inherit according to the law as it set out in the probate code.

Now, the process is that the person named the executor or another interested party will file a petition to probate the will. Once that petition is filed, there are certain intermediate court hearings and deadlines that have to be followed. Once those hearings and deadlines occur, the executor will file a request to distribute the assets and to close the estate. On average, it takes anywhere between 18 and 24 months for a probate case to go through the court process.

Quick Question Corner is a video segment where we answer common questions about estate planning and elder law. If you have similar questions, leave them in the comment section and we can feature them in one of our videos in the future.

Things to Consider When Investing in a Vacation Property

Things to Consider When Investing in a Vacation Property

In 2018, around 7.5 million second homes existed, which is about 5.5% of all homes. These homes are important because they hold cherished memories for you and your family. To make sure that these memories and your property are protected, it’s crucial to consider the following points about estate planning.

Estate Planning for Vacation Property: Ownership and Inheritance

If you own a vacation property, what happens to it when you pass away depends on how it’s currently owned. If you are the owner or co-own it with others, you need to decide what happens to your interest in the property. If you co-own it with someone else and you have joint tenancy or own it with your spouse, your interest will automatically transfer to the remaining owner without court involvement.

If a trust or limited liability company owns your vacation property, it will still own the property after you pass away. The trust or operating agreement may have instructions on what will happen to the property at that time.

Estate Planning for Property Owners: Ensuring Your Wishes Are Honored

Creating an estate plan allows you to make decisions about what happens to your money and property in a legally binding way. If you don’t have a plan and your property isn’t owned jointly, your state will decide what happens to it and your loved ones will have to go through the court-supervised probate process. If you own property in a different state, your loved ones may need to open two probate cases. There are different ways to handle your vacation property, so it’s important to consider your options.

  • Give the property outright to a loved one

  • Leave the property outright to a group of people

  • Give the property to a group of people as tenants in common and create an ownership agreement

  • Prior to your death, transfer the property to your revocable living trust to be held for a long period of time or indefinitely

  • Prior to your death, transfer the property to a special trust that owns only the property to be held for a long period of time or indefinitely

  • Prior to your death, transfer the property to a limited liability company to be held for a long period of time or indefinitely

  • Instruct your trusted decision maker who will wind up your affairs to sell the property.

Is Your Beneficiary Prepared to Take Over Your Vacation Property?

Your vacation property comes with happy memories, but also with a lot of responsibilities. If you decide to leave the property to someone after you pass away, they will have to take on financial responsibilities like mortgage payments, utility bills, and property insurance and taxes. If you want your beneficiary to keep the property, you need to think about whether they can handle these responsibilities. If not, they may be forced to sell it early.

Owning property with your children may also seem like a good idea, but there is a possibility that they may not get along in the future. This means they need to work together to maintain the property by communicating, agreeing, and contributing equally. An estate plan can help prevent problems by outlining a plan that everyone agrees to follow.

Estate Planning: Turning Your Wishes into Reality

To ensure that your wishes are followed and that your loved ones are prepared to maintain the property, there are several steps you can take.

First, you need to legally document your wishes and plan for any possible scenarios.

Second, if you are concerned about your beneficiaries being able to afford the property’s upkeep, you should consult with a financial advisor to create a plan that includes setting aside money for maintenance. Additionally, you should speak with an insurance agent to make sure the property is properly insured and consider acquiring life insurance to provide additional financial support.

Lastly, meet with a tax adviser to understand any potential tax implications of transferring the property during your lifetime or after your death.

If you want to know more about how to safeguard your vacation property and ensure that your desires for it are implemented, please get in touch with us.


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333 University Ave Suite 200 Sacramento CA 95825



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