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Fullerton Estate Planning Law Blog

How much do most people have when they retire?

Considering the net value of your assets -- and your debts -- is a good place to begin if you are looking into your estate planning options. To know how to pass that wealth on effectively, you need to know exactly how much you have. People often underestimate or overestimate their wealth, so it's crucial to take stock of everything.

Average wealth at retirement

Do your heirs owe your mortgage after you pass away?

As you write your will and attempt to decide what to do with your family home, you realize that you could still have an outstanding mortgage loan when you pass away. In an ideal world, you'll pay it all off first, but you never know what the future holds.

If you pass away and the loan still exists, are your heirs obligated to pay it? After all, they had no say in accepting or taking out the loan in the first place.

Don't put off writing a will

People often put off writing a will until something happens that makes the need for one more obvious than it has ever been before, and they wonder why they haven't done anything for decades. They scramble to get everything together.

For instance, someone may be diagnosed with a terminal illness. They never really thought much about the end, but now they cannot avoid thinking about it. They decide it's finally time to write that will.

Parents often change their age-based trusts

When parents set up trusts for their children, one reason they often cite is that they do not want the child to get all of the money too early. While the child may technically be an adult at age 18, for instance, they cannot imagine giving a high school senior or a college freshman all of the money they have saved up over the course of their lives.

Instead, they'll set up an age-based trust that makes distributions mandatory at specific ages. Much of the time, the common ages they pick are 25, 30 and 35. In some cases, they just pick one, but they often spread it out. For instance, a child may get $50,000 at 25, $100,000 at 30 and the rest of the balance at 35.

Who takes the kids if you and your spouse pass away?

Some questions really make parents feel uncomfortable, and with good reason. One such question is who takes the children if you and your spouse both pass away unexpectedly.

Did that make you cringe a little bit? It's not fun to think about. It's something that a lot of parents try to ignore because they don't know how to face it.

Is it time to write a will?

Odds are good that you did not think much about writing a will when you were in college. Maybe you even ignored it as a young professional getting started in the workforce. You only had debt, and few assets, and you did not have anyone else in your family to take care of. A will seemed pointless and you wanted to put off your estate planning for another day.

First things first: A will is never pointless. Even someone who is young, unmarried and who has few assets can use a will. You may have more property than you realize. You may just want to streamline things for those who get left behind if you pass away unexpectedly. Either way, it can help.

Fraud concerns with estate planning

The unfortunate reality is that the elderly often get targeted by scams and victimized by fraud. There are a few reasons for this, one of which is simply that they tend to have the assets and savings that others are seeking. This is especially true when they are considering their estate planning and dividing up their life savings.

Another reason, experts warn, is that the elderly may be suffering from cognitive issues that make them easier targets. A reduced mental capacity may cause confusion and make it easier for others to take advantage of them.

Who lives longer, men or women?

If you're married, one thing you may find yourself thinking about when doing your estate planning is who will be the one you appoint to oversee your estate. Are you going to appoint one your children, or will that job probably go to your spouse?

The truth is that the decision may come down to gender. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women live anywhere from five to seven years longer than American men.

When a child is born, it's time to write a will

Did you just have your first child? Congratulations! It's an exciting time in your life, and you're probably wondering what you need to do as a new parent. While there are a lot of steps you need to take, let's focus for a moment on one of the most important: writing a will.

Often, people think of a will as a way to leave assets to adult children when they pass away in the distant future. It may be that, but you also want to consider how a will can help if you pass away while your child is still young.

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