Californians may have seen that deceased pop star Whitney Houston's estate has finally been settled. Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of Whitney Houston and singer Bobby Brown, will receive three sizeable installments from the estate as she hits certain age milestones.
The California Court of Appeals has recognized for the first time that an unmarried same-sex partner may have what is known in legal language as expectation of inheritance. That result was reached in the ongoing inheritance case of a late California man and his partner, which may change the landscape of probate law in the state.
California is known for its host of stars in film and music. During the last number of years, few musicians' stars burned as brightly or as briefly as Amy Winehouse's. The British singer, known for her soulful voice, won a number of Grammy Awards before dying last year at the age of 27. Some had speculated about the details of her estate. Those details have now been made public, revealing who will inherit her property and assets.
The death of Whitney Houston this past week in a California hotel was an occasion to mourn the singer's untimely death, and to remember how her soaring mezzo-soprano voice brought joy to the lives of millions. But at the same time many people wondered how much money she had accumulated and who would be the beneficiary of all that wealth.
Last week we discussed the importance of being proactive in developing a California estate plan to ensure that your wishes are carried out in the event of a sudden illness or accident. But that is merely the first step in the process. Executing a will and then placing it in a safety deposit box to accumulate dust is not a strong estate plan.
When a person has a substantial estate to transfer upon their death, he or she will often utilize wills and trusts to handle many of the issues that they may face. Wills and trusts are often an excellent way to avoid probate court and to see that the deceased person's wishes are followed when it comes to asset protection. One Filipino woman who owns property in California and elsewhere understands the importance of estate planning as she is expected to inherit some $33 million from a wealthy recluse she had nursed for years.The massive inheritance that Hadassah Peri is expected to receive comes from Huguette Clark. Ms. Clark died at the age of 104 and is the daughter of a wealthy copper baron. She is perhaps best known for her reclusive behavior, having not been seen in public circles for an estimated 70 years. Mrs. Peri has been Clark's private nurse (and reportedly close personal friend) for over 20 years. She came to the United States in 1972 from the Philippines.
When someone with special needs receives an inheritance or a personal injury award, they may no longer be eligible for needs based government benefits. However, this type of one-time windfall can be put into a trust for the recipient's benefit so they can continue receiving their government benefit. This is called a "special needs trust" (SNT), and it is an important part of estate planning for California residents with special needs.