1. DO YOU HAVE A WILL?
If you die without a will in the state of California, your estate will be disbursed pursuant to statute. This is called "intestacy".
A probate proceedings will be commenced and your assets disbursed pursuant to the intestate succession statutes. In other words, heirs that you may not intend to receive your assets may end up with some or all of your assets without a will
If you have children, the court will decide who will take care of your children, i.e., act as a guardian. Since you did not specify in your will, your choice may not be the same as that made by the court.
2. DO YOU HAVE A LIVING TRUST TO AVOID THE TIME, COST, AND INCONVENIENCE OF PROBATE?
In a living trust, you control your assets during your life time and instruct your successor trustee as to the disposition of your assets after your death.
3. $625,000.00 ESTATE TAX EXEMPTION.
In a living trust you can take advantage of this exemption from potential federal inheritance tax consequences. This exemption may be increased to $750,000.00, if a bill currently before Congress is passed.
4. DO YOU HAVE LIFE INSURANCE?
Your ownership of a life insurance policy may be a disadvantage when it comes time to pay estate taxes. If your estate has estate tax exposure an insurance trust may be the recommended choice to avoid or limit this tax exposure.
5. GIFTS OF $10,000.00 PER YEAR.
To lessen a potential federal estate tax, which tax rates are from 37-55%, you and your spouse may gift up to $10,000.00 each to anyone during your lifetime. You may also gift unlimited amounts to each other to lessen the size of your estate at the time of death.
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