Legal Identification and Estate Planning

Sufficient proof of a person’s identity, such as a state issued driver’s license, is needed in many situations related to estate planning and estate administration.  Consider, for example, notarizing estate planning documents, obtaining a medallion signature guarantee to transfer securities, opening a bank account, obtaining possession of legal documents, and receiving an inheritance.  Let us […]

posted on: August 26, 2022

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Including Real Property Left out of a Decedent’s Estate or Trust.

Administering a decedent’s probate or trust estate can involve unforeseen challenges.  Let us consider two probate scenarios where title to real property that belonged to the decedent was nonetheless titled outside of the decedent’s name and presented a challenge as to how to title the real property into the estate.  Also, let us consider a […]

posted on: August 11, 2022

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Nominations of Executors, Trustees and Agents

Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and Advance Health Care Directives all appoint persons to act in a fiduciary (legal representative) capacity.  What do such appointments mean to the person(s) named to act?  What happens if such persons fail or decline to act?  Can the planning appoint alternative representatives?           A will nominates someone to act […]

posted on: July 28, 2022

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Special Administration of Decedent’s Estate

Protecting and preserving assets in a decedent’s estate may require important actions to be taken soon after the decedent’s death and before a general probate administration commences.  For example, if the decedent’s estate includes investment or business assets were owned by the decedent individually, and not jointly or inside a trust and/or business entity, e.g., […]

posted on: June 29, 2022

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Investments During Administration of Decedent’s Estate

Administration of a decedent’s probate or trust estate may include sizable financial investment assets (e.g., brokerage accounts) and/or cash assets (e.g., bank accounts).  Brokerage account values change constantly and may include assets too risky and inappropriate given the administration.  The administration will need to determine how much cash is needed to pay debts of decedent, […]

posted on: June 9, 2022

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Appraisals and Estate Administration

          Appraisals are often an important and expensive part of administering a decedent’s estate, whether it is a probate or a trust administration.  Appraisals provide the date of death asset values used to compute probate administration fees (for the administrator and his/her attorney) and to prepare federal and state income and estate tax returns, when […]

posted on: May 26, 2022

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Community Property and Separate Property Trusts

A person may have multiple trusts.  A married person may establish a joint trust with their spouse, to control the couple’s community property assets acquired while married, but also establish a separate property trust to control their separate property assets.  Generally speaking, however, most married couples use a single joint trust.  The joint trust consists […]

posted on: May 12, 2022

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Debts of a Deceased Spouse

Settling a deceased spouse’s estate involves assets and debts belonging to one or both spouses.  Debts can be secured (e.g., a mortgage debt), unsecured (e.g., credit card debt), or partially secured and unsecured.  In California debts and assets are characterized as community property (jointly owned) or as separate property (separately owned).     Generally, a married […]

posted on: April 28, 2022

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The Employer Identification Number and Administration

          When a person acts in a representative capacity as a Trustee of another person’s estate or as the court appointed Personal Representative of a Decedent’s probate estate they become a Fiduciary.  A fiduciary needs to obtain an Employer Identification Number (“EIN”) from the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”).  The EIN is needed by a fiduciary […]

posted on: April 15, 2022

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Required Minimum Distributions Under SECURE Act IRS Regulations.

Two years into the 2020 SECURE Act (“SECURE”), the IRS has issued its proposed regulations.  These regulations contain important changes to the Required Minimum Distributions (“RMD”) rules for beneficiaries of retirement plans.   Distributions received from a retirement plan are taxed as ordinary income.  Under SECURE, a plan participant (owner) must receive RMD’s starting April 1 […]

posted on: March 31, 2022

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