Notifying, Reporting and Accounting to Beneficiaries.

Unlike some other states, particularly Delaware, California does not allow so-called “Silent Trusts” — Trusts that limit the disclosure to trust beneficiaries of the existence, terms, assets, liabilities, and administration of an existing trust. Nevertheless, some trustees subject to California law still fail to notify death beneficiaries and heirs on the death of a settlor, […]

posted on: April 9, 2018

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Vested Right Versus Mere Expectancy

What is vesting and why is vesting important? Vesting occurs when an interest becomes an enforceable legal right. Until vesting occurs, an interest is a mere expectancy. Let us examine vesting in the context of estate planning. First, let us consider vesting in the context of a will. Anyone named as a beneficiary in another’s […]

posted on: March 21, 2018

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Harmonizing the entire Estate Plan

Having one’s affairs in order is like having good health. All related parts have to work together as a whole. That is, each separate estate planning instrument – be it the Living Trust, the Power of Attorney, or the designation of death beneficiary form – needs to function, where relevant, harmoniously with one another. Let […]

posted on: March 8, 2018

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How to Put your Business in the Right Hands

People work long and hard to get their businesses up and running. Especially, small or family owned businesses with limited resources. There are endless challenges that businesses face during every stage of their development. Fortunately, most successful business owners have figured out how to keep their companies competitive in an ever-changing economic environment. However, many […]

posted on: March 1, 2018

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The Difference Between a Living Trust and a Will.

What is the difference between a Will and a Living Trust (“Trust”)? This is a basic question people want answered. Let us examine the primary differences between Wills and Trusts. These differences relate to the following issues: (1) whether a Probate is involved; (2) what assets and legal affairs are implicated; and (3) when does […]

posted on: February 22, 2018

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Transfers of Community Property

California law protects a spouse’s undivided one-half interest in Community Property assets from wrongful actions taken by their other spouse. The same rules apply to Registered Domestic Partners. What is Community Property? Property acquired while married and living together – excluding gifts and inheritances — is presumed to be Community Property and not either spouse’s […]

posted on: February 8, 2018

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Trustee’s Investment Duties

In California, a trustee has a fiduciary (legal) duty to invest and manage trust assets impartially for the benefit of all the beneficiaries. The trustee must make all assets economically productive, unless the trust provides otherwise. The trust instrument may provide specific rules regarding the trustee’s asset management and investment duties, authorities and powers. Otherwise, […]

posted on: January 25, 2018

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Expanded Estate and Gift Tax Exemptions

The federal Revenue Reconciliation Act of 2017 (“2017 Tax Act”) increases the lifetime federal unified Estate and Gift Tax exemption and the Gift Tax annual exclusion amounts applicable during the eight year period covering January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2025. The federal Estate Tax exemption has effectively been doubled to more than eleven million […]

posted on: January 11, 2018

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Inherited IRA Trusts

Naming individual beneficiaries as primary and alternative death beneficiaries to a retirement account — e.g., an Individual Retirement Account (“IRA”) or 401(k) retirement — is usually sufficient estate planning for these assets. That is not, however, the only available estate planning approach. Nor is it always the best approach. Let us discuss. The advantages to […]

posted on: January 10, 2018

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No Trustee Liability for Beneficiary’s Lost Opportunity.

Is a trustee liable to a beneficiary for a lost opportunity when the trustee does not distribute money to the beneficiary that the beneficiary could have invested? That essentially was the primary legal issue confronting the California Court of Appeals, Second Appellate District in Williamson v. Brooks (7 Cal. App. 5th 1294). In Williamson a […]

posted on: December 14, 2017

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