We all hope never to be in this situation, yet it will likely happen to you at some point in your lifetime. You receive a telephone call telling you that a close family member has died. What do you do? There is no way to avoid the emotional reaction that follows the death of a close family member; however, there are also a number of practical and legal things that must take place after a death as well. While each situation is unique, there are some common steps that should follow in most … [Read more...] about What To Do Immediately After the Death of A Family Member
Estate and Trust Settlement
There are several myths and misconceptions surrounding estate planning that sometimes pop up. For example, some people believe that the state of California will inherit your property if you don't make a will or create some kind of estate plan. While this is possible, it is very rare. The process through which the state inherits someone's property is called escheat. Let's take a look at it and why it rarely happens. You can choose who inherits your property. In order to pass on your … [Read more...] about Will The Government Inherit Your Estate?
When someone creates a trust, that person must choose someone else to manage the trust property when the trust creator becomes unwilling or unable to manage the trust themselves. This person is known as the trustee or successor trustee. Though there are professional trust management options, many people select a nonprofessional trustee, such as a trusted friend or family member. If you've been placed in the position where someone is asking you to serve as a trustee, you will want to give the … [Read more...] about 3 Potential Trustee Pitfalls
If you’ve ever done estate planning, you deserve a pat on the back. It may surprise you to know that about half of the people in the United States, don’t have an estate plan. It’s shocking, really, because all adults need their own estate plan. So, you’re off to a great start; but, there are some important things you may have forgotten since you did your estate planning. Have you forgotten that you need to review and, as needed, update your estate plan every few years? Yes, your needs, the … [Read more...] about Keeping Your Estate Plan Up To Date
If you have recently suffered the loss of a family member or loved one, you may be concerned about the legal steps required to probate the decedent’s estate. Probate is the legal process in court by which a decedent’s estate assets are inventoried and valued, debts of the decedent are paid and assets eventually transferred to the beneficiaries or heirs of the estate. Whether or not an estate must go through probate depends on a number of factors. Wills, Trusts, and Estate matters are governed … [Read more...] about Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate?
In California, the Probate process includes appointing someone to act as the Personal Representative of the estate. The Personal Representative is either an executor named in someone's will or an administrator appointed by the court when there is no will or the will does not name an executor. This is the person who actually handles all of the affairs of the estate; the Court does not do it personally. If you serve as a Personal Representative, it is important that you know what your duties are … [Read more...] about Personal Representatives in California
Perhaps the most common form of estate planning today involves a Revocable Living Trust. Normally, when you create a Revocable Living Trust, you retitle your assets in the name of the trust and use them for your own benefit. After you pass away, the Trust distributes any remaining assets in the Trust to the named beneficiaries according to the terms of the Trust. However, there are other ways to use a Revocable Living Trust to distribute your assets to your heirs. If you have young children, … [Read more...] about Revocable Living Trusts Are Not All the Same
When a person creates a Will, he or she chooses someone to act as executor of the estate. An executor is responsible for administrating the estate settlement process. Even though a probate court will likely be involved in this process unless the estate is very modest, it is ultimately the executor’s responsibility to make sure the decedent’s wishes are carried out. While steps vary in each case due to the unique aspects of each estate, there are several steps you can take to make sure your job … [Read more...] about So You’ve Been Named an Executor . . .
Some consumers mistakenly believe that avoiding probate also avoids the federal estate tax. Both probate and the federal estate tax deal with your estate, but avoiding one doesn’t avoid the other. What is Probate? What’s the Federal Estate Tax? Probate is the legal proceeding of validating a will, if there is one, and settling an estate. Probate assets are all those assets that the decedent owned in his or her individual name, but didn’t have a beneficiary designation, a joint owner or … [Read more...] about Confusion About How to Avoid Probate and Estate Taxes
A question that often comes up in estate planning is “How much money do you need to get a Living Trust?” The question is a fundamental misunderstanding, but a common one. Although there would not be much point in doing so, you can put as little as a single penny into a Living Trust. The question is based on the premise that Living Trusts are designed for rich people. It’s a false premise. Living Trusts are designed for anyone who either wants to give something for one person to manage for the … [Read more...] about Estate Size and Living Trusts