For many people, avoiding probate is a good idea. A recent controversy about state laws now provides yet another reason for doing so through careful estate planning. A recent article about California estate administration laws brought up an interesting Catch-22 in the process of administering a disabled or elderly person's estate. In California, unlike most other states, the law allows attorneys who are appointed by the court as trustees of the estate to bill hours spent defending their fees against when the amount of the fees is challenged. The rule has been applied even when the fees are challenged by the beneficiary of the estate. State lawmakers have now assigned a task force to investigate and, if necessary, change California estate administration law.
In addressing their estate plans, some California residents have probably heard about the gift tax exemption, which is scheduled to change dramatically at the beginning of 2013 unless Congress takes legislative action. One of the most important aspects of estate planning is asset protection, and for individuals and couples looking to avoid unnecessary taxation, the gift tax exemption is of critical importance.
It probably comes as no surprise to Californians that the controversy over Michael Jackson's estate remains in the headlines. The latest news comes in the form of a statement by the attorney representing Janet Jackson and other family members, alleging that the executor of Jackson's estate has damaged family relationships and created discord amongst family factions that are currently disagreeing about the handling of the estate. Jackson's last will and testament continues to be at the center of the argument, and questions as to its validity have not, and according to the statement, will not, go away.
The estate administration process involving the late Mary Kennedy's estate has taken a step forward, as the son of Mary and Robert Kennedy Jr. has been appointed as the administrator of the estate. Conor Kennedy, the couple's eldest son, turned 18 in late July and on the same day requested the court to name him as the administrator of his mother's $2.1 million estate.
Californians may be interested by a recent New York Times piece on the predicament of parents and children who have experienced the turmoil of inheriting a large sum of money. While this certainly seems like a very fortunate problem to have, some heirs have claimed that the lack of communication regarding a potential inheritance has left them ill-equipped to handle the responsibility and burdensome expectations that may accompany that money, with the consequences being irresponsible financial management and family discord. Proper estate planning may be the answer, but there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to familial communication.