As we progress through the stages of life, our estate planning needs may change significantly. Young people with no dependents and little property may not need much in the way of estate planning, but once families form, it is time to start considering these issues seriously. For young parents, establishing some estate planning is an absolutely essential part of protecting their children and each other.
Sometimes, when reading a deceased person's will to determine the distribution of his or her estate, more than one will is present. If the different iterations of the will contain drastically varying terms, this can create significant conflicts in the estate distribution process. This is especially true if one version of the will includes certain family members while another version excludes them.
Estate planning is a complicated business, but in community property states, it is even more so. Under community property laws, spouses both enjoy one-half ownership of all their marital property, which can greatly complicate matters when it comes time to create an estate plan. If you are married and are beginning to think about how you'd like to pass on your estate, it is very important to consider how this state-specific issue may affect your planning.
When a person creates a will, it is very important to establish his or her testamentary capacity for the will to withstand potential legal challenges. Testamentary capacity is a person's legal ability to create a valid will. Some individuals simply do not possess that capacity. For instance, in most cases, a legal minor under the age of 18 cannot legally create his or her own will.
When discussing estate planning, it's hard to talk for more than about five minutes without bringing up trusts. In modern estate planning practice, trusts are one of the most commonly used tools to help an individual protect his or her estate and determine how that estate gets distributed when the time comes.