People in California may have questions about how the legal process of transferring assets and property after a person's death occurs. This legal process in general is referred to as probate, although the process can vary greatly, depending on the circumstances. In general, a well-written and valid will can help a person avoid a lengthy and involved probate process, but in some circumstances, probate is a necessary and unavoidable step.
People in California probably know Casey Kasem as the voice of Top 40 radio and one of the most memorable personalities on the airwaves. Kasem died on June 15 at the age of 82, and according to reports, was the subject of a moving tribute marked by heartfelt speeches from family, friends and loved ones. However, things were not always so pleasant in the days and months leading up to Kasem's death, as a bitter family feud over his medical care erupted between his spouse and his children.
People in California surely know Disneyland as one of the state's biggest tourist attractions and the self-proclaimed "Happiest Place on Earth." Over 50 years ago, the visionary behind the empire, Walt Disney, died and left his estate to his family and loved ones. Disney left untold millions to his children, including his daughter Sharon, who died in 1993 and left her share of her inheritance in a trust fund for her twin children, Brad and Michelle, who are now 43-years-old.
People in California may have seen a recent article about a 60-year-old man who was found dead in Wyoming under a railway overpass. His body was discovered by children who were sledding; coroners believe the man died of exposure to the elements. The man, who may have been living as a transient, wasn't your average homeless person, however; he was the adopted great-grandson of former U.S. Senator and copper tycoon William Andrews Clark and heir to a vast sum of the family fortune.
People in California know what a menace wildfires can be on the west coast. Many people probably recall the tragedy that occurred in Yarnell, Arizona, when 19 firefighters on the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew perished while fighting a blazing wildfire earlier this summer. The story became national news as firefighters and citizens mourned the brave crew, but now the victims' families have a fight of their own.
People in California who have lost a loved one know that the emotional toll of grief and sadness can be overwhelming. The loss of a close friend, relative or spouse can make functioning normally difficult, if not impossible. Often though, before a person can properly grieve, they first have to deal with the practicality of winding down their loved one's affairs and settling their estate after death. Having a practical plan in place for one's own affairs after death can be very useful, especially when it comes to naming a capable person to perform the essential tasks that must be done.
Readers in California may have heard about the ongoing troubles surrounding the estate of deceased rapper Nathaniel Hale, popularly known as Nate Dogg, who died of complications from multiple strokes in 2011. Hale reached widespread popularity for his collaborations with some of the biggest names in hip-hop, as well as critical acclaim in the form of four Grammy nominations. He died at the young age of 41 and did not leave a will, leaving the disposition of his substantial estate to be determined by the California probate court.
Readers of this blog may have seen a recent headline about the allegations against pop icon Michael Jackson, who now is being accused of molesting yet another young boy. This time the accuser is a man named Wade Robson, once a staunch supporter of Jackson, who became friends with the pop star at the age of 7. The latest accusations may extend the California probate proceedings for the Jackson estate, which have continued through a seemingly never-ending spate of estate challenges from creditors, alleged victims and feuding family members.
People in same-sex relationships in California have had a tumultuous ride over the last year. Between Proposition 8 and the uncertainty over the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, it might be difficult for same-sex couples and people in domestic partnerships to even know where they stand under the current law.
A recent article about California estate law and probate highlighted the importance of estate planning for a number of reasons, whether or not a person has substantial assets. While most people may be uncomfortable thinking, and even planning, for their death and the distribution of their property, they should take the time to address these issues. Avoiding probate, saving many thousands of dollars and preventing family tumult are several reasons why a person should have a current estate plan.