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Relaxed estate taxes enable more giving

In the past, California estate planning attorneys typically focused on taxes, charity and family when they helped clients document their wishes for their assets after death. While passing down assets to family and leaving gifts for charity are still important elements of estate plans, taxes are less of an issue now than ever before.

As people consider where they would like to see their assets go after they die, they must go beyond the typical questions and determine whether there is anyone else they'd like to leave gifts to in their will. Many people today are including life partners, domestic employees, personal nurses or other aides and friends in the list of people who they want to take care of after they are gone.

Gifts to charity are often overlooked as people try to divide their assets among close relatives. However, leaving money or in-kind donations to a charity is a great way to continue to support an organization. Government funding is not guaranteed, and a lot of helpful charities close because they don't have enough donations to carry on the mission. By leaving a legacy in this way, a Californian can be sure their money will be put to good use.

There are a lot of ways a person can allocate cash and other assets in their will. An attorney who focuses on estate planning may help a client determine the most appropriate way to distribute their assets by asking pertinent questions. Inquiring whether there is anyone else a client would like to leave money to may cause them to think deeper and include everyone who is important to them in their will.

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