Creditor Claims in a Probate.

Decedents typically die owing a variety of unpaid debts.  Probate acts as a legal clearinghouse for a decedent’s unsecured creditors to file claims demanding payment of a monetary liability (debt) owed them by the decedent.  In California, creditor claims are required to be filed regardless of whether the liability was due, accrued, contingent, or reduced […]

posted on: September 9, 2021

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The House Trust

          A residence can be held in further trust for the benefit of one or multiple beneficiaries after the owner’s death.  In California, a trust can hold title to real property either for up to ninety years or for a period that ends no later than 21 years after the death of an individual who […]

posted on: August 26, 2021

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Selling or Gifting Real Property as a Legal Representative

          A person who is authorized to act in a representative capacity is a fiduciary and must follow certain fiduciary (legal) duties.  Application of the duties vary with the legal authority granted and the situation.  Agents, conservators, trustees, personal representatives, and even spouses (in relationship to their spouse) are all fiduciaries.  Let us discuss how […]

posted on: August 14, 2021

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Health Education Maintenance and Support Distributions 

Many trusts say that “income” and/or “principal” are distributed for the beneficiary’s “Health, Education, Support and Maintenance” (“HEMS”).  Why is the HEMS standard used, what does it mean, and how is it applied and enforced?  The HEMS standard is an “ascertainable standard”.  It is an objective (measurable) standard.  A non-ascertainable distribution standard – e.g., distributions for beneficiary’s comfort and happiness – is not measurable because distributions are measured by the beneficiary’s personal wishes.    Using the HEMS standard helps protect trust assets from creditors of the beneficiary, […]

posted on: August 14, 2021

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Joint Tenancy Law & Property Tax Reassessment

          In California, the yearly increase in the assessed value of real property cannot exceed two-percent (Proposition 13). Thus, when after many years under Proposition 13, a reassessment to current fair market values occurs it can cause a dramatic increase in real property taxes.  Reassessments are a result of a “Change in Ownership” (sections 60, […]

posted on: July 14, 2021

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The Versatile Power of Attorney

Having a broadly drafted power of attorney can enable an agent to act in a representative capacity in a multitude of situations.  If authorized, the agent can act to provide for the principal’s personal care, manage the principal’s assets, engage in estate planning, support dependents, make gifts (such as to qualify for Medi-Cal), and more.  […]

posted on: July 14, 2021

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Determining Incapacity for Trusts and Powers of Attorney.

          A person’s incapacity to manage their own financial, property, legal and health care decisions often authorizes the following person(s), as relevant, to act in a representative capacity:  The successor trustee, and agent(s) under powers of attorney for finances, property and legal affairs and advance health care directives.  Estate planning allows a person the opportunity […]

posted on: June 16, 2021

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Life Estates

Lifetime gifting of property is an approach to estate planning that has its place under the right circumstances.  Lifetime gifting can either be outright or subject to a retained interest by the donor.  An owner of real property, who owns their property free and clear, can deed (gift) their real property to another and still […]

posted on: June 3, 2021

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Retitling Publicly Traded Securities

          Retitling publicly traded securities (registered stocks or bonds) is often a necessary part of estate planning and administration.  When a person establishes a living trust, their securities are often transferred into the name of the trustee.  When a person dies owning securities in their name and a probate is required the securities are transferred […]

posted on: May 19, 2021

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Why You Still Need a Will.

My appreciation of the importance of having a will has been reinforced by recent experiences.  Even if you have a trust you still need a will.  A will speaks at death to who inherits assets, other than non-probate assets including assets held in a trust.  Without a will the laws of intestate succession apply to […]

posted on: May 8, 2021

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