The Omitted Spouse.

          California law protects a surviving spouse when the deceased spouse’s last will or trust, executed prior to marriage, fails to provide for the surviving spouse.  California’s policy is to protect a surviving spouse against accidental disinheritance under a testamentary instrument executed prior to marriage.  Generally speaking a surviving spouse who is […]

posted on: January 26, 2015

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To Probate or Not to Probate, that is the Question.

California law grants a surviving spouse special rights and obligations concerning the probate estate and personal debts of a deceased spouse.  These are governed by community property laws.  The same rules apply to California registered domestic partners.  Community and Quasi Community property is divided equally at death, and separate property belongs to the owning spouse.  […]

posted on: January 26, 2015

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How a Settlor’s Capacity Affects the Rights of Beneficiaries.

           An elderly person’s mental capacity to make decisions affecting the management, investment and disposition at death of his trust estate is often disputed in lawsuits over alleged wrongs done to the elderly person and/or his family.  Such lawsuits can involve the elderly person’s trustee, surviving spouse, surviving children and romantic relations, […]

posted on: January 26, 2015

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When intended beneficiaries die too soon.

           Assumptions people make about who will receive an inheritance share from their estate can sometimes fall far off the mark. Peculiar results may occur when an intended beneficiary survives just long enough to inherit but not so long as to enjoy their inheritance.  This situation arises when a beneficiary dies during, or soon after, […]

posted on: January 26, 2015

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The Advantages of a Stand-alone Special Needs Trust

          Most people who have heard about special needs trusts are familiar only about the Testamentary Special Needs Trust (hereafter Testamentary SNTs).  Testamentary trusts are established at the death of the person establishing the trust pursuant to his trust or will.   Stand-alone Special Needs Trusts (hereafter Stand-alone SNTs), however, are established while the benefactor is […]

posted on: January 26, 2015

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Putting it all together.

Understanding the importance of the team work that is involved in managing one’s financial, legal, property and health care affairs is important.  Hypothetically speaking, let us consider a husband and wife whose estate plan involves a revocable living trust, powers of attorney, and health care directives.  How will the persons whom the couple has legally […]

posted on: January 26, 2015

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Considerations in Estate Planning.

          Getting one’s affairs in order is important to you and your loved ones at multiple levels.  First, a comprehensive, well drafted estate plan may afford you protection against an otherwise avoidable conservatorship of your own estate; against a costly and time consuming probate; and against financial abuse.  Second, a thoughtful estate plan can promote […]

posted on: January 26, 2015

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Giving Effect to a Settlor’s True Intentions.

          A cardinal rule of trust administration is that the intentions of the settlor(s) – the person(s) who created the trust – are to be given effect.  A second cardinal rule is that a trust must be strictly administered according to its stated terms.  What happens, then, when the stated terms of an executed trust […]

posted on: January 26, 2015

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Settling Small Estates under $150,000

          Effective January 1, 2012, in California, estates of decedents valued at less than one-hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) can be settled as small estates without probate.  Formerly, the limitation was one-hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).            To determine whether a decedent’s estate is a small estate the following are excluded:  Assets held in the […]

posted on: January 26, 2015

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How does Medi-Cal treat gifts in determining eligibility to receive Medi-Cal for long term care at a

  A reader requested that I discuss Medi-Cal’s gifting rules. Under existing Medi­Cal regulations, anyone who applies for Medi-Cal to assist paying for long term care at a “Skilled Nursing Facilities” (“SNF Medi-Cal”) must disclose all transfers by the applicant and his or her spouse during the 30 month period prior to application; the so-called […]

posted on: January 26, 2015

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