Family and money don't mix, which is why more people are recognizing the importance of estate planning, and in California, this is twice as imperative. In order to ensure that one's final wishes are properly carried out, seeking the advice of an experienced lawyer can make a real difference. Taking these steps can also avoid creating situations where a dispute over an estate breaks out amongst family members.
As the New York Times notes, putting together a living will is essential for managing things like end of life care, but with the expensive California probate system, a will is often not enough. In a will one's wishes are laid out, such as who will care for the children, naming an executor, and determining which people and charities will inherit the left over money. Many in the Golden State who have a significant amount of assets also use trusts to avoid having their families go through the arduous probate court.
Although some people transfer bank accounts to their loved ones in advance to prevent the estate from going into probate, this can also create a financial power struggle amongst family members that is easily avoided. The same can happen if a family home is put into a child's name too early. Instead, many people choose to set up a limited partnership with their child, which still allows control of one's own money but ensures it goes to the proper loved ones upon death. Some people even write a clause into their wills and trusts to prevent a dispute over the arrangements: no-contest clauses cut out any person disputing the documents in court.