New Year, New Goals for Estate Planning

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!

Goal #1

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.

Goal #2

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.

Goal #3

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.

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