Why You Need an Estate Plan if You Have a Special Needs Child or Grandchild


The future of children and grandchildren are often at the forefront of our minds when planning our estates. However, if you have a special needs child or grandchild that you wish to care for after your death, setting up your estate to do so properly requires careful consideration and thought with the help of an expert.  Trust planning is essential for special needs loved ones A “supplemental needs” or “special needs” trust is the most common type of trust created by the parent or grandparent (or “Grantor”) for the child with special needs (the “lifetime beneficiary”). The trust will direct [...]

Why You Need an Estate Plan if You Have a Special Needs Child or Grandchild2021-04-09T00:24:34+00:00

How to Amend or Revoke Your Will


As the circumstances in your life change, you may also want or need to amend your Will, especially if your family has gained members by way of children being born, changed family members such as by marriage or divorce, or bought or sold a considerable amount of property like houses, other real estate, and cars. Another reason to amend your Will is the death of a beneficiary or executor. When you want to change your Will, you can do so by either adding something called a codicil or by writing a completely new Will. What follows is some additional information [...]

How to Amend or Revoke Your Will2021-04-09T01:00:10+00:00

Estate Planning Basics: What’s the Difference Between . . . ?


Estate planning involves a subset of property law, a notoriously arcane body of law that, in many ways, hasn’t changed for generations. As such, estate planners must be familiar with ancient concepts like escheatment (when a person’s property goes to the government because no heirs can be found), ademptions (what happens to a specific gift in a Will or trust if the property is no longer owned when the gift is supposed to become effective), and the rule against perpetuities (which governs, among other things, how long a trust can last). Luckily, most people don’t need to be too familiar [...]

Estate Planning Basics: What’s the Difference Between . . . ?2021-04-09T00:31:21+00:00

Traditional vs. Roth IRAs Under the New 2018 Tax Law


Traditional vs. Roth IRAs Under the New 2018 Tax Law When Congress amends the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), as it did with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last December, it does more than just change the text of current law. Because tax law is so complex, and because so much of the financial world is responsive to those complexities, changes to the IRC inevitably cause additional changes in how Americans choose to invest and earn income. For example, the new tax law has two features that may change which type of individual retirement account (IRA) many Americans choose to [...]

Traditional vs. Roth IRAs Under the New 2018 Tax Law2021-04-09T00:40:03+00:00

Benefitting from Life Insurance While You’re Still Alive


Who is life insurance for? That is, who does it benefit? When asked that question, most people will likely say that it benefits your loved ones after you die. After all, the policy only pays out when you die, and you won’t have much use for those funds by that point, right? Well, yes and no. Actually, life insurance can offer some lifetime benefits for the owner of the policy, which is typically the insured person. For example, the owner may be able to take out a loan against the value of the policy. Or he or she may be [...]

Benefitting from Life Insurance While You’re Still Alive2021-04-09T00:26:00+00:00

Corporations vs. LLCs in Estate Planning


In March, I wrote a post about estate planning for small-business owners. That post discussed the different ways that you, as a small-business owner, might choose to dispose of your small business after your death. Whether you want the business to pass to your children, to go to a business partner, or to be sold, you need to plan well ahead of time. One part of your planning process should occur very early in the life your business, when you choose what type of business entity to form. In California, two of the most common business-entity choices are a corporation [...]

Corporations vs. LLCs in Estate Planning2021-04-09T00:32:40+00:00

California Estate Planning for Digital Assets


What happens to your Facebook account when you die? What about any money you left in your iTunes account? Or the pictures and other files you stored in Dropbox? How about your extensive collection of virtual hats in the popular online video game Team Fortress 2? (Yes, really!) Until recently, California law didn’t provide much guidance for such “digital assets.” But in September of last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB-691, the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), into law. AB-691 added sections 870-884 to the California Probate Code. Let’s take a quick look at what this [...]

California Estate Planning for Digital Assets2021-04-09T00:26:08+00:00

The Estate Tax & Family Farms


There’s been a lot of chatter in the news lately about the potential for the federal estate tax to be repealed. One argument often made in favor of repealing the estate tax is that it will protect small family farms from being sold to pay off an estate-tax liability. That raises an interesting question: How does the estate tax deal with farms? In this post, I’ll provide an answer to that question. General Rule: Property is Valued Based on its Highest and Best Use Farm property, like all other property owned when a person dies, is included in his or [...]

The Estate Tax & Family Farms2021-04-09T00:44:56+00:00

What To Tell Your Children About Your Estate Plan


What To Tell Your Children About Your Estate Plan Hi there, Bridget Mackay here. I'm an attorney in Petaluma, and I practice in the area of estate planning and elder law. Today I want to talk about what you should tell your children about your estate plan. Most commonly, folks have trusts, but even if you have a will, what should your kids know about what's in that will? Or, do you need to let your chosen executor or your chosen successor trustee, after both you and your spouse have passed away, what's in your trust? Well, generally speaking [...]

What To Tell Your Children About Your Estate Plan2021-02-09T21:32:03+00:00

Changes to Medi-Cal Estate Recovery in 2017


I’ve written about Medi-Cal estate recovery in the past, but today I’m going to talk about some big changes that became effective earlier this year. For Medi-Cal beneficiaries who die on or after January 1, 2017, the Medi-Cal estate-recovery rules have changed. Some of these changes only impact recipients of Medi-Cal benefits other than long-term care, but some apply across the board. Let’s see what’s different now for long-term Medi-Cal beneficiaries. 1. Survivors Under pre-2017 law, Medi-Cal could not recover from someone’s estate if he or she was survived by a spouse or registered domestic partner, but it could recover [...]

Changes to Medi-Cal Estate Recovery in 20172021-04-09T00:32:15+00:00