Estate Administration and Probate Archives

How does California law protect the omitted spouse?

In an earlier post in this blog we talked about the importance of updating a California estate plan in the event of a remarriage. If one fails to do this, one of the results may be the application of California's omitted spouse statute.

California's intestate succession laws

Most people in California have good intentions when it comes to estate planning. They know they have to get around to it someday. Unfortunately, for too many people that "someday" never comes, and they die without leaving a trust or will that directs how they want their estate to be distributed.

Challenging a California will or trust based on undue influence

Under California law, undue influence can be grounds to challenge the validity of a will or trust. A 2014 case from the California Court of Appeals illustrates the courts' power to void estate planning documents procured by undue influence. The case involved the third wife of an elderly multimillionaire. Before he died, the husband made multiple amendments to his trust, progressively giving more assets to the wife and disinheriting his two older children from a previous marriage. The husband and wife then jointly executed a new family trust which, among other things, designated all his assets as community property and gave the wife a life interest in his estate.

Who decides the value of property in a trust or estate?

People in California who own substantial property and assets might have some questions about what their real and tangible property is worth. In a volatile real estate market, significant fluctuations in property value can be common, so an updated appraisal of the property may be necessary. Estate planning decisions may revolve around the value of these assets, so it's important for people to understand how the appraisal process in California works.

What is probate and how does it work in California?

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.

Casey Kasem's situation shows importance of powers of attorney

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.

How to avoid common estate planning mistakes

People in California know that estate planning isn't something that happens overnight, and as life itself changes, the estate plan goes right along with it. An estate plan requires careful thought and reflection on a person's goals, aspirations, belief in the future, concept of what their financial contribution means in the grand scheme of life, and even their own mortality. It can be heavy stuff to consider, but the peace of mind that comes with a professionally managed and comprehensive estate plan is more than worth the labor, time, thought and emotions that go into the process.

Handling finances after death requires trust and experience

People in California know that the only constant thing in life is change. People watch their children grow up and have children of their own. Friends and neighborhoods develop and change, and people make plans to suit their wishes as they transition from full-time work to a peaceful retirement. A lot of changes are great; many bring joy and fulfillment to life.

A brave new world of inheritance issues

People in California know that science has contributed to our lives in ways that never seemed possible only a generation ago. In particular, new advances in human health and reproduction science have made conception through alternative means relatively common in society. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that the use of assisted reproduction technology has far more than doubled in the last 10 years.

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