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Irvine Legal Blog

Singer's children allowed to contest his will

Music fans in California may be following the drama surrounding Glen Campbell's estate. A judge in Nashville ruled that three of his children will be able to contest wills that were dated in 2001 and 2006. The three children were not entitled to any type of inheritance according to the contents of those documents. Campbell experienced symptoms of Alzheimer's disease prior to his death, and the children questioned whether their father had the capacity to agree to those documents.

They also believe that he left them out of his will because of undue influence. According to the 2006 will, his wife was named executor of the estate and also stood to benefit from it. It also named five other children as beneficiaries to the late singer's estate. Campbell's widow is not objecting to the will contest, and there was no other opposition according to the judge.

Dispute over Charles Manson estate still ongoing

A battle over the estate of infamous cult leader Charles Manson has been ongoing in California, and on July 13, a judge eliminated two of the four people who had filed petitions. Both said they were sons of Charles Manson, but since both were adopted, their legal ties to him had been severed.

One of the men, a musician, asked if he could have more time to get a lawyer, but the judge said he had already missed several deadlines and dismissed his probate petition. The other alleged son asked that his petition be withdrawn because he did not think he would be successful. This leaves a man who claims to be Manson's grandson and a man who was his pen pal and who collects Manson memorabilia. Earlier in the year, the alleged grandson won the claim to Manson's body and had him cremated.

Trustees are personally liable

Being a trustee comes with a mix of feelings. An individual or couple chose you for specific reasons. They consider you loyal, trustworthy and capable of the job. You probably feel honored by the role, but also unsure of what the role entails.

Like any job, preparation is the key to success. Since you will be managing their trust, it’s necessary to be aware of the responsibilities and duties that go with such an important position.

Celebrity chef's will could lead to inheritance dispute

The death of a loved one can throw a California family into turmoil for many reasons, not least of which is the potential for a legal dispute over inheritances. The potential for legal disputes has been highlighted by Anthony Bourdain's will entering probate. The celebrity chef died in Paris in June 2018 as a result of suicide; he had been in France filming an episode of his global food show, "Parts Unknown." At the time of his death, he was estranged from his wife, but the two were not divorced. This means that his spouse has a right to claim a statutory share of the estate.

In the Bourdain case, the chef and his estranged spouse were friends and close co-parents who focused on the well-being of their daughter. However, especially in more contentious separations, the potential for a legal inheritance dispute can be escalated when a person passes away before his or her divorce is finalized. Even if a person's will excludes his or her estranged spouse, that person can make a claim on the estate for the share provided to him or her under state law. Of course, that can put the estranged spouse in legal conflict with the named beneficiaries of the will.

Glen Campbell's estate administrator requests more authority

California residents may be interested in learning about the current standing of singer Glen Campbell's estate. Facing deadlines, the interim administrator of Campbell's estate is asking the judge to expand his power. This will give him the ability to hire accountants and financial experts in order to accurately estimate how much the Campbell estate is worth.

When the estate was filed, the court put a limit on the power the interim administrator had. In essence, the interim administrator has the ability to collect money that's paid to the estate as well as make non-discretionary payments.

Possible heirs identified for photographer

Art lovers in California may be following the story of Vivian Maier, a French photographer who died in 2009. Her photographic work was found in a storage unit by a film producer who eventually went on to make a documentary about his discovery of over 150,000 of Maier's black and white negatives. Maier's story is famous for the fact that she worked as a nanny in Chicago. While her photographs were never published before her death, her street photography has been critically acclaimed posthumously.

Although the producer owns 90 percent of Maier's negatives, Maier's estate, which is believed to be vast, has still not been bequeathed to a rightful heir. Maier never had children, and confirmation is needed of whether or not her only brother ever had children. Over the course of three years, genealogists have gathered information about the photographer. Lawyers released a report the week of June 25 that identified 10 cousins of Maier who could be possible heirs to her estate. Two of the cousins are from Maier's mother's side, and eight were from her father's side.

How to resolve disputes between beneficiaries

An inheritance-related dispute can be emotional for everyone involved. That's why mediators should realize that everyone goes through the grieving process differently. In many cases, this grief can be triggered by a variety of issues. For some, the conflict resolution process may help with the grieving process. Therefore, mediators in California should also understand that disputes about money could really be about validation or a proxy for other relationship problems.

In some cases, solving a relationship issue could lead to resolving an issue about money. However, there are times when a person truly needs his or her inheritance to get by or simply wants a larger share because of a desire to be greedy. In such a scenario, a mediator should strive to focus the discussion on how relationships can be more valuable than money.

Duties commonly assigned to an executor

Every will needs an executor. However, the person writing the will should get consent from the individual named as executor prior to signing the document. It could also be beneficial to name an alternate in case the original person is unable to fulfill the duties for some reason. People most commonly choose someone close to them, such as a spouse or adult child, who is likely to follow their directions. An executor of a will has several duties in California probate.

Although in most cases, the role of the executor only lasts a short time, it is very important that the person assigned to this role takes it seriously. Anyone chosen as executor who doesn't want to do it should inform the probate court so the judge can assign an alternate. In the weeks following the passing of the testator, an executor will need to find out what the person owned, pay debts and taxes from the estate funds, locate the heirs named in the will and maintain property that will be sold. He or she will also need to attend all court hearings related to the estate.

3 FAQs regarding appraisals

If you’ve lost a loved one and serve as the personal representative of their estate, you likely have plenty of unanswered questions. As a personal representative, you will need to work hands-on to administer the estate. Often, the average person is unfamiliar with the probate process. One of the first tasks you will have to complete is filing an Inventory of Assets sheet. During this process, the decedent’s real property will need to be appraised.

Here are some answers to questions commonly that can help guide you through the appraisal process in California.

Death of tycoon leads to extensive probate litigation battle

Californians who die without wills may have their estates probated after they die. As the death of Texas tycoon James Cotter demonstrates, the probate process may be very complex and heavily litigated when people leave behind large estates without wills.

Cotter died at age 83 in January 2017 without a will. Since his death, his wife, five children, the IRS, his creditors and multiple lenders have engaged in substantial probate litigation over how his estate should be handled. Cotter owned a vast empire of properties in multiple states, and several properties have been forced into bankruptcy since his death. Before his death, his assets were valued at $287.9 million. Of that amount, all but $41 million of his assets were in his 66 properties. He listed $181.7 million in liabilities prior to his death.

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