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Irvine Legal Blog

Three ways to avoid inheritance disputes

It is not uncommon for those who stand to receive less than what they were expecting from a loved one’s estate to threaten legal action to contest the validity of a will. These actions, (commonly known as will contests) are akin to a civil lawsuit where the testator’s intent is reviewed.  The awards stemming from such an action may result in a will being amended and property being redistributed.

 But just like most civil lawsuits, will contests are not resolved overnight. In fact, a settlement realized within 12 months after a suit is filed is considered fast. Contested matters that reach a judge’s verdict could take two years to decide.

Residential landlords must be proficient and detailed for success

When you are a landlord you have a tough job. You work to make a living. The work you do is also extremely important to your tenants. You provide them when a home. Their living situation is co-dependent on your success. It is a job that takes a lot of thought, time, patience and commitment. You expect your tenants to follow the rules. You look for people that will treat you and the property with respect. Tenants count on you to do the same.

There are advantages to being a landlord. You get to make an income. It’s possible that you can benefit from tax advantages. If you own the property, it is possible that your property may appreciate in value. There are of course disadvantages as well. You may be liable for certain issues and have unexpected expenses. You have to work with tenants that may cause problems, and your income relies on keeping the property filled.

Single beneficiary will inherit Carrie Fisher's vast estate

Media sources confirmed on July 10 that a single beneficiary is set to inherit Carrie Fisher's multi-million dollar estate in California. Court documents indicate that the late actress's only child, Billie Lourd, will inherit the estate and most of Fisher's belongings. According to court records, the 24-year-old Lourd will also control the rights to her mother's public image. 

Different types of guardianships

Among the least pleasant topics for California residents looking to draft a valid will and testament is that of guardianship for their minor children. Some parents may rely on the law to ensure that children enter the custody of their trusted next of kin, but even this is no guarantee that guardianships of both children and their inheritance will end up with preferred individuals. Understanding California law on guardianships and why each is necessary for the parents of minors can help protect heirs from asset disputes and other probate issues.

An estate guardianship is essential for minors who directly receive significant assets in their name. This person will be charged with carrying out orders from either the court or a valid will to invest assets, administer any disbursements and protect property. If an estate guardian is not named in the will, or the named party is unable or unwilling to serve and has no backup, the court has discretion to choose a guardian.

Mistakes to avoid when writing a will

It isn't uncommon for California residents to write their own wills. However, there are several mistakes that people tend to make when doing so without the help of an attorney. For instance, it may be possible for individuals to forget to include their family members as part of the document. While a person can give money or other assets to whoever he or she wants, close family members have the right to challenge a will.

Those who are planning on giving money to minors should avoid making a direct transfer. When this happens, a court appointed guardian must safeguard the money until the child turns 18. However, the estate has no control over the appointment, and the estate must pay for the services provided by the guardian.

Managing property assets in estate planning.

In the realm of estate planning in California, a new type of asset has appeared. Along with such assets as real estate, financial accounts, personal property and intellectual property, a person must now consider digital property assets as an item to account for in his or her estate plan.

Digital property assets can include social media accounts, passwords, email addresses, website names and online accounts such as Paypal. If a person is an eBay seller or other form of online merchant, declaring these accounts is a must. A recent article addresses some of the issues involved.

Why estate plans are important for unmarried couples

People in California who live together but are not married may want to consider creating estate plans. As part of an estate plan, each person can give the other permission to make medical decisions. Another reason for an estate plan is so that partners can inherit assets from one another. Without these protections in place, these rights will default to family members, and unmarried partners may have no say.

With a healthcare power of attorney, unmarried partners can give one another permission to make medical decisions. People should discuss their wishes with partners, including organ donation and end-of-life care. People should also make sure they co-own any major property, such as a home, or that there is an arrangement that allows one partner to inherit that property if the other dies. Arranging for assets to be distributed to a partner is important as well. This can be done through a will or trust. Some assets, such as retirement accounts, must be passed on using a beneficiary designation.

Bringing heirs into the loop during estate planning

When California residents are planning for the disposition of their estates, one of the most important factors in protecting the estate and its continuity can be involving heirs in the process. Especially in the case of high-value estates with significant assets, family and shared knowledge and communication can be particularly essential.

It has been estimated that up to 70 percent of estates lose assets following the transfer and that family harmony and togetherness is also negatively impacted. While some of these cases result from poor planning, in many cases, carefully planned estates can also suffer serious negative effects. One of the major factors can be a lack of preparation and knowledge on the part of the heirs inheriting the estate.

Estate planning for parents of children with special needs

California parents of children with special needs often have challenging, lifetime planning options to consider. Lifetime care, including support for housing, caregivers and other professional support, can have costs that run well into seven figures.

There are various saving strategies and tools that can support savings for future care while allowing children to maintain access to special needs government programs. These programs include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and related disability benefits.

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