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Bay Area estate planning lawyerThe makeup of the average American family has changed dramatically in recent decades. A large percentage of families now include children from multiple marriages. In some cases, both spouses have children from previous marriages in addition to the children the couple shares together. If you are part of a blended family, proper estate planning is especially crucial. Failing to properly plan for your family’s future can lead to arguments, confusion, and unintentional consequences.

Allowing the State to Handle Inheritance Matters Eliminates Your Control

Thinking about how your worldly possessions should be distributed to your heirs is a topic that many people try to avoid. In fact, only about half of adults over 55 years old have any type of estate plan in place. Understandably, it can be very uncomfortable to make plans for a time when you are no longer around. However, failing to plan for how your estate should be managed after your death leaves your surviving loved ones with a substantial burden. Your children, grandchildren, and other surviving loved ones will be left guessing how you wanted your assets distributed. Furthermore, passing away without an estate plan means that you give up the right to dictate how your hard-earned assets are handled after your death.

Dying Without an Estate Plan Can Leave Some Children with Nothing

In a blended family situation, the consequences of dying without a will can be even worse. If you pass away without a will or other estate planning tools in place, your estate will be subject to California’s intestacy laws. This means that you have no say in how your property is distributed to heirs. According to California law, most of person’s estate—including all community property—goes to his or her spouse upon his or her death. When the spouse dies, his or her estate passes to his or her children. This means that your children could unintentionally be left with little or nothing if you pass away before your spouse.  

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California estate planning attorneysThere are many occupations that can be potentially dangerous, such as construction workers, medical professionals, or law enforcement personnel. First responders including police officers, firefighters, and EMTs have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, responding to calls and treating patients who are ill. These workers risk their lives on a daily basis in order to protect the citizens of their communities. Studies have shown that first responders have a greater chance of serious to life-threatening workplace injuries than those working in other industries. Therefore, it is critical for them to think of the future, as difficult as it may be. Creating a comprehensive estate plan that outlines your care and assistance for your spouse or children in the event that you become disabled or pass away can prevent disputes between your loved ones.

Planning Ahead

Since first responders face significant hazards in the line of duty, injuries can be severe. For example, if a police officer sustains a gunshot wound from a perpetrator, it could result in paralysis or brain damage. Serious injuries such as these require long-term care and a victim may even need around-the-clock assistance or life-support machines in order to breathe. When this occurs, a valid estate plan can give directives on medical decisions if the injured person cannot make them on his or her own.     

A few important elements of a California estate plan for first responders include:

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