BABY BOOMERS AND THE LOOMING ISSUE OF INCAPACITY

As of 2010, 13.1% of the population was over 65 (A Profile Of Older Americans: 2011).  Baby Boomers will have all passed the age of 65 by 2030, which by some estimates means that one-fifth or 20% of the population will be over 65.  Couple that with the fact that life expectancies are at an all-time high, America is looking at a new demographic make-up with a disproportionate (compared to historical numbers) amount of elderly citizens.

HEATH LEDGER AND THE MISSING HEIR – PRETERMITTED HEIRS

Heath Ledger died, unmarried, at the age of 28.  At the time, he had a two-year old daughter, Matilda Rose, and a will.  The will, drafted before Matilda’s birth, did not mention her.  So she gets nothing, right? Not necessarily. While the heirs of Ledger’s estate (his sister and parents) ultimately came to a private settlement regarding Matilda’s share of his estimated $20 million estate, depending on what state (or country) laws would have been applied, Matilda may actually have been entitled to his entire estate.

INTESTATE SUCCESSION – DYING WITHOUT A WILL

What happens when someone dies without a will (called, “dying intestate”)? Who gets what?

In California, when someone dies without a will, or with a will that does not dispose of all of his or her property, the laws of intestate succession determine who the decedent’s heirs are, and how much they will get of the estate.

ESTATE TAX VS. INHERITANCE TAX

What is the difference between estate tax and inheritance tax?

Estate tax is that owed and payable by the estate.  The federal government applies an estate tax to estates over $5.43 million for 2015 (this amount is indexed and is scheduled to increase every year).  For states that impose an estate tax (most do not, including California), the residence of the decedent determines whether or not state estate tax will apply.

MILLIONAIRE HOARDER’S ESTATE UP FOR GRABS

Gerald Willits died at the age of 76 years old, in Orange County.  Mr. Willits, a plumber, lived a life of solitude, estranged from his daughter and so detached from others that it was several days before anyone discovered his remains.

The rooms in Mr. Willits’ one-story house were piled high with paper, fast-food wrappers and other trash, and were infested with rats.