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Wills Archives

Toyota magnate's family fights over parents' will


People in California who follow business news may have heard about an interesting legal battle that is brewing in Miami, Florida between five siblings and heirs to the massive estate of multimillionaire Gerald Bean. After Bean died in 2011, the majority of his assets were put into a trust, with his wife serving as trustee. The trust included specific instructions that upon her passing, the trust assets were to be distributed to four of the five Bean children.

What is a California statutory will?


Every year in California, thousands of people die without a will. This may be shocking to people who understand how important it is to have the proper estate planning documents in place. Without a will this person has no ability to direct how his or her financial assets will be disbursed amongst friends, heirs, significant others and family members.

Estate planning is best left to the professionals


People in California know that everyone needs a will. It's an important document that spells out what is to become of a person's assets after they die, and in many ways is a person's only means of communication with friends and family members after death. For that reason, a lot of time and effort can go into the will decision-making process, but unfortunately not enough people spend enough time making sure that the will itself is correctly written and legally valid. People who try to write a will on their own may end up making some serious mistakes which could in some cases nullify the will entirely, or lead to costly and avoidable legal challenges as to the validity of the will or its execution.

Inheritance court fight brings out the worst in family members


People in California may have seen a recent news article about a new variation on the old theme of family members behaving badly when it comes to fighting each other for a share of a wealthy benefactor's inheritance. The sad fact is that money, combined with grief at the loss of a loved one, can lead to some serious family in-fighting when the terms of the will are not crystal clear on how to distribute the deceased's assets.

Life changes call for will and testament changes


People in California know how important it is to have a will. Not only does a person's will provide him or her with the ability to express final earthy sentiments and provide comfort and closure to loved ones, it has powerful legal and financial implications that will impact the world long after the person is gone. But on the other hand, dying or becoming incapacitated without a will can be a legal and practical nightmare, as the disposition of a person's personal property and assets is essentially left to up to the court system, which will blindly and systematically dictate who receives what without any consideration for what the deceased would have wanted.

The importance of keeping your will up to date


People in California may have seen a recent editorial in Forbes about the common and potentially costly mistake many people make when it comes to estate planning and preparing a will. Many people relax after they have prepared and executed their will, but whether they know it or not, a simple change of circumstance could potentially render the best-laid plans null, or even direct that the assets go to the wrong person.

Gore Vidal leaves estate to Harvard, disinherits family


Californians may be familiar with the late author and noted liberal thinker Gore Vidal, who passed away last year and left his entire multi-million dollar estate to Harvard University, completely eschewing his family members and relatives by leaving them nothing. But now, Vidal's half-sister is challenging the validity of his will, claiming he was not of sound mind when he made the controversial will.

Rock icon Lou Reed leaves inheritance to loved ones


People in California and all over the United States mourned the death of rock-and-roll visionary Lou Reed, who died last month after a hard-fought bout with liver disease. Reed, who was best known as the front man for the legendary art-rock outfit The Velvet Underground, as well as his solo career, died peacefully and with his affairs settled.

Inheritance fights bring out worst in California families


Many families in California who have dealt firsthand with the death of a loved one may understand all too well the trouble that can arise when a family squabbles over inheritance. The situation can be a perfect storm of emotions. Relatives are dealing with funeral arrangements, worrying about the deceased's last will and testament, and of course, coping with the loss of a loved one and it can be simply too much for people to handle all at once. These are just some of the reasons why family arguments about inheritance can be so painful. People have been known to suffer serious health problems as a result of this stress, including heart attacks, nervous breakdowns and even strokes.

Marilyn Monroe photographer's will in tense challenge


People in California may have seen a recent news article about the man who was responsible for some of the most iconic fashion photography of the 1960's, and the fate of the fortune he allegedly left to his children. Bert Stern, the man who snapped some of the raciest photos of Marilyn Monroe only weeks before her death, left two competing wills, and a potential court battle between his three children and his wife at the time of his death. He died approximately three months ago, leaving quite a bit of uncertainty as to who will eventually inherit.

My Sacramento law practice, Michael A. Sawamura, Attorney at Law, focuses on wills, trusts and estate planning law in addition to business law and corporate defense services. My clients include professionals, government employees, small businesses, blue-collar workers and national corporations.

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