When you are planning for your estate, the people who come to mind are likely your relatives, and perhaps a charity that is dear to your heart. However, you may not have any close relatives, or at least not anyone you feel close to. What can you do then? Does California force you to leave your estate to blood relatives?
State Laws in Regard to Naming Beneficiaries
This question comes up because of certain European nations which have laws forcing heirship. In the US, such laws don’t exist on the federal level, and California has not done much to impose its own will on whom you may choose to name as an heir. There is only one primary exception.
When a couple holds an asset as a community property (e.g., you each own 50% of your home), you can only dictate who receives your portion of the asset, not the entire asset.
Can I Make My Beneficiary a Random Person?
Sure. While this is a rather unorthodox way to pass on your estate, you could technically look in the phone book and select names at random to place in your will. The main issue will come when your executor is trying to get in touch with these individuals. They may pass away before you, or they may have moved without you knowing, or they could potentially refuse to speak with the executor thinking the call is some kind of scam.
California Estate Planning Law Experts
Whether you want to pass on your inheritance to your closest blood relative, a charity, or even just a good friend, Petrov Law Firm can help. Contact our estate planning attorneys today at 619-344-0360 to schedule a consultation.Read More
At Petrov Law Firm, we see each of our clients as an individual. As a result, we help you to determine what is best of you and your beneficiaries. For some families, leaving a life insurance policy to a trust as a beneficiary is a good idea. Here are a few situations where this method works well:
- Your beneficiaries are minor children – If your kids are under 18, they won’t get your life insurance policy until they come of age anyway. Having the money go directly into a trust can allow a trustee to dispense some money to the children as needed such as for new outfits at the beginning of the school year.
- You want to avoid executor and court fees – If your estate ends up in probate court for any significant amount of time, a good portion of the assets can go toward court fees and executor expenses before your family sees any of it.
- You are concerned about the simultaneous death of yourself and your beneficiary – Let’s say the person you were going to name as your life insurance policy beneficiary is someone who is always traveling with you. What happens if you die together in some sort of travel-related accident? Having the money go into a trust is a good way to ensure it passes on to your other family members.
Personalized Estate Planning in San Diego, California
Let our professional estate planning attorneys help you to determine what methods will meet your family’s needs. Call 619-344-0360 to schedule a consultation today.Read More
IRAs have become a popular form of retirement account. They offer tax benefits and are also convenient for a person who runs his or her own business. However, there are a few concerns when it comes to estate planning and IRAs. Here are three things you need to protect your retirement account against so your beneficiaries receive their full inheritance.
- Taxes – Sometimes when an IRA account owner dies, the account is liquidated, and the funds are sent as a check to the beneficiary. The problem with this is that accepting that check may subject your beneficiary to paying a ton of taxes, thereby negating any tax benefits you previously received from putting money into the retirement account.
- Divorce – With an IRA, you select a beneficiary. Thus, a divorce will likely mean changing the beneficiary on the account, a fairly simple process but one that is easy to forget. A 401(k) is a little more complicated because it automatically goes to your next of kin. That means if you pass away before the divorce is finalized, your soon-to-be-ex may end up getting the money.
- Creditors – While retirement funds don’t pass the same way a bank account would, it is also very different from a trust. Thus, creditors may have the opportunity to sneak in and get their cut.
Proper Estate Planning to Protect Your IRA, 401(k), and Other Retirement Accounts
To make sure the right person or persons benefit from your hard-earned money, trust the estate planning pros at Petrov Law Firm in San Diego. We offer the premier California estate planning services in the area. Call 619-344-0360 to get started now.Read More
There is something you need to know if you and your partner are not legally married. You can’t expect California state law to treat two people who are cohabiting the same way that it does a married couple when it comes to succession. As a result, if you don’t plan on getting married anytime soon, you need to think about the effect this will have on your estate planning. After all, you want your partner to be well taken care of if something happens to you.
How California Estate Laws Differ for Married and Unmarried Couples
When two people are married and one spouse dies, the other spouse has inheritance and property rights that automatically go into effect. This is not the case when there is not a legal union between the two individuals. However, this does not mean an unmarried partner is entirely without recourse.
In fact, as long as the petition is filed promptly, California law may even help an unmarried survivor to enforce verbal contracts that were made when both parties were alive. The term for this type of case is a Marvin petition.
Estate Planning in California to Avoid Complications
Of course, rather than relying on the ability to win such a case in court, the best way to make sure the person you love receives an inheritance is to fill out your estate planning documentation properly now. The estate planning attorneys at Petrov Law Firm in San Diego and Chula Vista would be happy to help you prepare your documents properly. To get started today, call 619-344-0360.Read More
When you name the beneficiaries in your will, your assumption is that you will pass away before your heirs. However, due to the general uncertainties of life, a beneficiary may sometimes die before you. What does this mean for the transfer of your estate? Here are a few things you need to know.
- California has an anti-lapse statute – This means that your estate can pass to the spouse or children of your kin. For example, if you leave money to your brother, but he dies before you, his wife or kids will receive the inheritance. This won’t work if you leave your money to a close friend who is not a blood relative.
- You can overrule the anti-lapse statute – Let’s say you want to leave $15,000 to your favorite nephew, but you have no relationship with his wife or children. You can include a clause in your will that he gets the money if he survives you, but that the gift lapses if he is not alive.
- The key is clarity – Include clear instructions on what is to happen if your beneficiary does not live to receive his or her inheritance This will ensure that your estate goes exactly where you want it to go.
Preparing a Will and Other Estate Documents in California
In order to ensure that your last will and testament along with other estate planning documents are all executed properly, contact San Diego’s estate planning professionals at Petrov Law Firm. To get started on your documents or to update existing estate plans, contact us today at 619-344-0360.Read More
If you have a diversified portfolio of assets, you may have questions about the best way to leave securities to your heirs would be. For example, can you pass securities on to heirs through transfer on death (TOD)? We’ll examine how this works so you can make an informed decision on the best way to leave your assets to beneficiaries.
You Can Pass Securities Directly to Heirs at Death
The good news is that the state of California has ways to transfer some of your assets outside of the potentially costly and lengthy probate process. One of these is the California Uniform TOD Security Registration Act. This act specifically addresses the passing of stocks and other securities directly to a beneficiary by what is called transfer on death.
The good thing about TOD is that if something happens to you, your heir immediately becomes the owner of the securities that have been designated. The key is to properly designate the TOD assets so that the transfer takes place seamlessly and without question.
Help in Designating Transfer on Death Securities
Petrov Law Firm specializes in estate planning. We can help you to leave your assets to beneficiaries in a way that cuts through some of the legal red tape and gets the money to your heirs faster and without costly legal bills. To learn more, give our San Diego office a call today at 619-3344-0360. We can help you with all of your estate planning needs in the state of California.Read More
When a person passes away, his or her retirement accounts do not go through probate. Instead, retirement accounts are automatically paid out to a beneficiary who is selected by the account holder. What are the different types of retirement accounts that a person may have? Why should you periodically check to see who your beneficiaries are?
Which Retirement Accounts Have Beneficiaries?
If you have a savings account, this can be left in trust. Or you may have another person’s name on the account. However, retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s are different. These should have a beneficiary listed on the policy. If you live in California and have an IRA or a Roth IRA, your spouse will be the beneficiary. The only way to designate someone else is to have your spouse provide written consent allowing you to designate another beneficiary. The same is true with a 401(k). Thus, unless your current mate has signed a waiver and you have designated someone else, he or she is the beneficiary.
Why Maintain Your Beneficiary List?
You should check on your beneficiaries periodically, especially if you experience a change in life circumstances. For example, if you get divorced, you will likely want to change the beneficiary on your retirement accounts.
Of course, your retirement accounts may not be the only thing that needs changing. You may have to update the beneficiary on a life insurance policy, amend a will, adjust a trust, and so on. For help with all of your estate planning needs, contact the estate planning lawyers at Petrov Law Firm. We can help you keep all of your records in good order so that your wishes are carried out properly. To learn more, call 619-344-0360 today.Read More
One of the easiest ways to distribute your smaller assets (like bank accounts) is to list your beneficiaries on the accounts as recipients upon your death. When you pass away the asset will then immediately transfer to the beneficiary without any need to pass through probate.
However, when you pass your assets over without specific instructions, you might find that your assets don’t get distributed as you want. For example, you could add each adult child as a beneficiary for the bank account. And you could verbally request that the money in your bank accounts gets distributed equally among your children. Unfortunately, one of them could withdraw the full amount without consent from the other account holders.
Just a few thousands dollars could then cause a rift in your family. Work with an estate planner to clearly state your intentions in your will and create the legal mechanisms to ensure your assets are distributed accordingly. Money can have a polarizing effect within the closest of families. And while you might assume you know the financial circumstances of each of your children, chances are there are details about their personal finances they won’t share with you. Even the most seemingly responsible adult might have financial concerns that could override their loyalty to your express wishes.
Never make any assumptions when it comes to asset distribution. The passing of a loved one is a stressful time for a family. If there are any vaguaries regarding your assets, the stress of your death could translate into long-standing grudges over financial matters.Read More
When you and your lawyer write your will, you write it assuming the named beneficiaries will be alive when you pass away. However, sometimes beneficiaries pass away early. And not everyone updates his or her will to keep up to date with those kinds of unfortunate and significant changes
If you don’t change your will and one of your named beneficiaries has already passed away, then the probate court will award your assets to the beneficiary’s natural successors. For example, if you name your sister as the beneficiary of your house, but she has already passed away, then your sister’s spouse and children will step in as the beneficiaries. If you have a family member you specifically, don’t want to gain from your assets, then you will have to work with your estate planner to word the document in exact and specific ways.
Several kinds of investment accounts, banking accounts, and life insurance rewards have built-in requests and/or requirements that force you name both a primary and secondary beneficiary. These documents will often take precedence over your will. Be sure to review these documents alongside your other estate planning documents to ensure there are no conflicts.Read More
It’s not uncommon for adult siblings to hold grudges and maintain long-running disputes. Unfortunately, financial matters, like your will and your estate, are not likely to bring your children any closer together. In fact, if one of your children is left as the executor of your estate, his or her siblings might be highly critical and suspicious during the distribution phase.
Even if the questions don’t go so far as to result in one of the beneficiaries contesting the will or protesting the estate distribution process, you might find it best to have a distant relative or professional handle the distribution of assets.
The executor of your will is likely to get paid for his or her work. Frankly, being the executor of a will is hard work that involves legal documents and judicial processes. From an outsider, it might appear to be easy. And if your adult children are looking for ways to increase family tension, one person getting more than the others (as payment to handle your estate) might be reason enough to start a shouting match.
Your passing will be an emotional and stressful time for your family. Be sure to name an executor who won’t be caught in the middle of an unnecessary family fight.Read More