On  Being Married, Estate Planning and Administration.

Being married is significant both for a married person’s lifetime estate planning and subsequent administration of the estate at death.  Important rights and responsibilities exist between married persons.   The capacity (understanding) necessary to be able to marry is low.  It is very difficult to invalidate a marriage afterwards.  In California, “[t]wo unmarried persons 18 years […]

posted on: February 10, 2022

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Assets Inside and Outside of One’s Trust

Some assets belong inside of one’s living trust and other assets do not.  It is important to know the difference.  The primary purposes of a living trust are to avoid probate and to distribute assets according to one’s wishes in the most cost and time effective manner.  Assets normally titled inside of one’s living trust […]

posted on: January 29, 2022

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Keeping Separate Property Separate in Second Marriages

A person with significant separate property assets and children from a prior marriage(s) may wish to secure their separate property assets when they get remarried to protect themselves and their own children when the marriage ends at death or divorce.  California is a community property state.  Assets are characterized either as community property , i.e., […]

posted on: January 14, 2022

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Dealing with the Back Offices of Banks and Brokerages.

          Administration of a decedent’s estate may involve investment accounts (with stocks and bonds) held in the decedent’s name or trust.  The investment accounts may be at a bank or a brokerage.  A person administering a probate (i.e., a personal representative) or trust estate (i.e., a successor trustee) will want to  (1) obtain information regarding […]

posted on: December 23, 2021

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A Valid Will

A Valid Will             Without a valid will a person’s estate passes to their surviving heirs under intestate succession (i.e., “succession without a will”).   A valid will can determine who inherits assets in a decedent’s estate, who is the executor of the estate, what powers the executor has over the estate, and more (or less).  […]

posted on: December 8, 2021

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Trustee Duty, Discretion, and Good Faith

A Trustee has a so-called “fiduciary” duty — i.e., a duty that involves legal responsibility and accountability to the trust beneficiary — to manage the assets of a trust strictly according to the terms of the trust for the sole benefit of the beneficiaries.  A Trustee cannot favor the interests of one beneficiary over another […]

posted on: November 25, 2021

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Medi-Cal Planning & Resource Limits.

Anyone receiving community based Medi-Cal or long term (skilled nursing) Medi-Cal is familiar with the stringent, longstanding non-exempt asset (“resource”) limitations for eligibility (i.e., $2,000 in available, countable non-exempt assets for a single individual).  Two recent developments affect present day and future Medi-Cal eligibility planning for persons either already receiving or applying for Medi-Cal. First, […]

posted on: November 11, 2021

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Health Care Decisions

Health care decisions include whether to approve or to disapprove diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, and medication, and other forms of health care.  Patients make their own health care decisions if they both can understand the nature and consequences of a health care decision – including understanding the significant benefits, risks and alternatives — and can […]

posted on: October 28, 2021

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Estate Planning on behalf of a Spouse with Diminished Capacity.

In California, what options does a person married to a spouse who suffers from cognitive impairment have to get the couple’s affairs in order, e.g., to establish and fund a trust?  Let us discuss. Let us consider a married person with diminished capacity – e.g., unable to have an involved estate planning discussion or unable […]

posted on: October 13, 2021

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5 Common Mistakes in Estate Planning

Trying to figure it out on your own may seem like a good idea, but because of the complexities of the different laws, some simple little mistakes can be costly later on. A few procedures taken now could save your beneficiaries thousands of dollars in legal fees and taxes in the future. This is one […]

posted on: October 5, 2021

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