Your Family Matters
Happy New Year! We hope that your holidays were joyful and that you took
some time to rest and recharge with family and friends because 2016 is
off to a running start! It’s time to set goals, make resolutions,
and set the stage for a productive and prosperous new year.
Now is the perfect time to review your estate plan. While visiting with
family, were there any new life changes that occurred? Did someone announce
an engagement or pregnancy? Did anyone confide that they were separated
or recently divorced? Did you notice an elder family member had memory
loss? These family matters are important to address and include in your
new year’s resolutions check list!
Plan Ahead! Your family is growing and someone is joining in on all the family fun!
Whether this ‘new addition’ has questionable motives, or everyone
is filled with joyful bliss, it’s time to educate yourself on the
“ins and outs” of California’s community property rules.
The marital "community" consists of all assets acquired during
marriage, except those acquired by inheritance or gift. Any income acquired
by either spouse during marriage is automatically split so that each spouse
owns half. Since each spouse owns an equal half of the community property,
each may dispose of his or her half of community property in a will or
trust as he or she so desires. Otherwise, it will automatically pass to
the other spouse. Talk about your estate plan with your loved ones so
that the happiness of new love remains the focus and tone for the New Year.
Be a Good Listener. Sometimes families use holiday gatherings to announce a separation. With
everyone in one place, it may be easier to share disappointing news, rather
than having to repeat the information like family gossip. Be a good listener
and support your family member in their time of need, and arm yourself
with helpful information that can assist with their new normal. Recommend
a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement to help avoid strife when it comes
to dividing assets in the event of divorce. Consider amending the estate
plan before filing for separation or divorce, when it will be too late to do so.
Be Honest. Take an honest account of yourself and your family members and use the
information to make choices about this year. It may be time to make some
tough decisions about the care of an elder family member. Has your family
member experienced a noticeable advancement of memory loss? Is there a
loved one that needs to consider in-home care or assisted living? Use
this time to make educated choices as a family with regard to conservatorships
and long-term care, particularly for elderly loved ones with Dementia
or Alzheimer’s disease who may now lack the capacity to properly
care for themselves. These are tough decisions, but honest conversations
will set the tone for a much smoother year.
Keep Yourself Accountable
The best gift you can give your family this season is peace of mind. Talking
about these issues and sharing your thoughts with family members will
help keep you accountable to your personal family goals for estate planning.
We are here to help address tough family matters. Call us today.
HAPPY NEW YEAR…from all of us at Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC.