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Forbes magazine just asked this controversial question in a recent article. The answer is almost always yes with relatively few exceptions. In California, everyone has an estate plan. Either you’ve created one yourself with a Will or a Trust or the State of California has an estate plan for you. This one is called intestate succession and the California Probate Code explains who will inherit from your estate if you die without your own documents.

It is true that a form of estate planning is the use of joint tenancy and beneficiary designations on your bank and brokerage accounts. These will trump the provisions in a Will even if you have one. However, what happens if the heir dies? What if your beneficiary designations are out-of-date? Also, often times it is unadvisable to hold property jointly with your children.

Another issue often overlooked are your personal effects. There is no way to put a beneficiary designation on an art collection or family heirlooms. A Will directs the disposition of where these items should go and to whom.

We are pleased to announce that long-time Probate Attorney Barbara G. Knox is joining the firm as Of Counsel. She will be working in our Palm Springs office assisting clients with Estate Planning, Probate, Conservatorship and Guardianship issues.

Estate taxes issues present headaches for the simplest estates. These potential issues are compounded when the decedent is a celebrity. In the wake of Prince’s untimely death, his estate attorneys will be tasked with the momentous task of valuing his name and likeness. Essentially, someone will set a monetary value on Prince’s profit potential calculated on the day he died. A recent Wall Street Journal article explains that this task will inevitably lead to an IRS battle as the estate attorneys understandably want to make this value as low as possible while the IRS will want a very high number. A similar battle is currently taking place in the U.S. Tax Court in Michael Jackson’s estate.

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