This is a question that a lot of clients come into our office asking. Let’s discuss how probate works and what you can do if you want to avoid it.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the legal process through which a person’s assets are distributed after he or she dies. If the person who passes away has a last will and testament that is legally valid, then the document is used as a guideline. It should outline:
- An executor – This is a person who is responsible for gathering and dispensing the estate’s assets. Responsibilities may include paying taxes that are still owed by the estate as well as any other debts and collecting debts that may be owed to the estate. Multiple executors can be named in succession in case the primary executor dies before the person whose will it is.
- Beneficiaries – One or more people can be designated to receive part or all of the estate. This includes property and other assets.
Probate court can drain much of the funds in an estate and lead to lengthy proceedings that keep beneficiaries from getting money as quickly – especially if the will is contested. For this reason, many people prefer to take steps to avoid probate. How?
Avoiding Probate in California
If you are looking to avoid probate court in the state of California, the right option for you may be a revocable living trust. Such a trust is not subject to probate in California. The estate planning attorneys at Petrov Law Firm would be happy to help you set up such an estate plan. To learn more, call our experienced California attorneys at 619-344-0360.Read More
One of the things that need to be settled on when taking care of estate planning is deciding who will acquire the property that you own. Something that can complicate this process is co-ownership of real estate. We’re going to discuss a hypothetical example to show how co-owned property can lead to discrepancies that end up having to be worked out later by the court system.
How Does Shared Property Ownership Affect Inheritance?
Imagine a father buys a house and decides to have his two adult sons on the deed. Ownership is split: 1/3 to the dad, 1/3 to the older son, and 1/3 to the younger son. Some time passes, and then dad has a falling out with his younger son. Now he wants to leave everything to his older child. But what about the third of the house that is deeded to the younger son? Will the courts allow the dad to leave the younger son’s interest in the home to his older child?
This is an oversimplified example to show the complications that can result in estate planning when it comes to sharing ownership of property. This can occur whether the other owners are family, friends, business partners, or anyone else. This makes it vital to have your planning properly in place and to consult an estate planning attorney when making decisions that will affect your future estate.
The Estate Planning Attorneys San Diego Residents Can Trust
If you need help with your estate planning, the attorneys at Petrov Law Firm can provide valuable advice on how to ensure your wishes are met. To learn more, contact our San Diego, California practice at 619-344-0360.Read More
Most young people think that estate planning is what you do when you retire as a grandfather and want to make sure your assets go to your favorite relatives. However, accidents happen, and that means any adult should have the necessary documents in order, even if you are in your 20s and are the picture of good health. Here are two important reasons for starting your estate planning young.
If a Fatal Accident Occurs
Sometimes, accidents happen. Whether you have started a family as a young person or still live at home with mom and dad, you want to be sure that end-of-life decisions are in place. How do you want the funeral to be carried out? Are you willing to be kept alive on life support, even if there is a degree of medical certainty that you will never recover? Especially when a tragic accident occurs, it can be difficult for family members to make these decisions. Making them in advance is a kindness to your loved ones.
If Wrongful Death Is Involved
What if the fatal accident is caused by a drunk driver, a defective product, an avoidable work accident, or another situation in which wrongful death may be involved? Having your estate planning in place may help survivors to start a wrongful death suit. An executor can do so on behalf of the estate. Otherwise, whoever would be next as far as intestate succession is concerned would suddenly be confronted with this responsibility.
Now Is the Time for Proper Estate Planning
If you live in the San Diego area, come and see us at Petrov Law Firm. Regardless of your age, it is never too soon or too late to get your estate planning in order. Call 619-344-0360 today to get started with one of our experienced estate planning attorneys.Read More
What is a holographic will? It refers to a last will and testament that is handwritten and signed by the testator ( the person whose will it is). California happens to be one of the states that allow this type of will. However, that doesn’t necessarily make it a good option. What are some reasons to avoid a handwritten will?
- It is easy to challenge the will – Proving that the handwriting on the will matches other handwriting samples from the testator is only a matter of time, but there are plenty of ways to prevent an inheritance from being tied up for months or perhaps longer, so why make things more difficult for heirs?
- Witnesses to the signing are optional – Because the document being in the testator’s own handwriting is legally binding, the witnesses who would normally attest to a typed document are often skipped. However, having witness signatures on a will is an extra way to prevent confusion as to the legitimacy of the document.
- Handwritten wills are often prepared incorrectly – This can occur with a typed will too if it is not checked by an estate planning attorney. The best way to deal with this situation is to have a professional draft the document to meet your expressed desires. Then you know your wishes will be carried out in a timely manner.
Help in Drafting a Will or Creating a Trust
The estate planning attorneys at Petrov Law Firm are happy to help our clients develop legal documents that ensure your wishes will be carried out for asset distribution, funeral arrangements, and other necessary matters. To learn more, give us a call at 619-344-0360.Read More
Charitable planning is a wonderful part of estate planning that can allow a person to pass on a legacy of benefit to those in need. However, failing to plan properly for this giving can lead to legal issues for both the charities you intend to help and your family members whom you may intend to leave the bulk of your estate to. Here’s an example of the messy situations that may arise.
Charity Sues Trust Over Use of Funds
An issue arose for a man who executed his estate planning all the way back in 1967. A trust was formed that gave the man’s grandson a $100/month payout for as long as he lived. There was also a stipulation that would allow the trust to provide the grandson with additional funds for special situations like medical bills, accidents, and other cases of “dire need.”
The grandson dipped into the trust for such a case of “dire need” in 2009 when he went through a divorce. The trustee approved more than $160,000 in disbursements. So far everything seemed to be working as intended, but there was one catch.
Several charities were to share what was left in the trust when the grandson eventually died. These charities had already been waiting for 50 years, and one in particular was not happy that $160,000 was going on a divorce, disagreeing with it being a case of need that the trust should pay for. The case has bounced between state and federal courts and was back in a California court as of January 2017. No doubt this was not the way the man who left behind the estate wanted things to go, with more and more of the trust’s money ending up going to lawyers and court fees.
Protect Your Trust with Good Estate Planning
By planning one’s estate carefully, it is possible to provide for descendants and also for charities to benefit fully from assets without a legal battle. Petrov Law Firm specializes in estate planning, and our attorneys can help you to plan effectively for various situations that may arise in the future. Call 619-344-0360 to get started.Read More
If you are putting off a conversation with your family about estate planning because the topic is tough to deal with, now is the time to get everyone together. The fact is that as difficult as the conversation may be to have, you need to have it while everyone is calm and has their wits about them. During an emergency medical situation or when cognitive problems start to set in are not the right times for serious talk about the future. Here are a few things you should know.
Why You Need to Have an Estate Planning Discussion
Discussing things as a family does not take away your right to determine what will happen to you or your estate. It simply helps you to convey to your family why your estate plan is being set up as it is, and it allows your family members to voice opinions or ideas you may not have thought of. What should the discussion include?
- Distribution of Assets – Discussing who will get what can curb hurt feelings over what your will or trust will later
- End of Life Decisions – If you don’t want your life prolonged on machines, now is the time to break the news to your family and to discuss who can handle the emotional responsibility of making the call if it comes to that.
- Funeral Arrangements – Now is the time to let your family know how you want your remains to be handled.
- Medical Wishes – If you become incapacitated either physically or mentally, now is the time to establish who will be in charge of making decisions for you and what you expect those decisions to be.
Meeting Your Estate Planning Needs in San Diego, California
By having this discussion, you can help absolve your family of any feelings of guilt when having to make tough calls and limit any hurt feelings that may be piled on top of grief at a later time. Petrov Law Firm can then help you to carry out the decisions you have made by sharing our valuable estate planning experience with you. To begin enacting your plans for the future, call 619-344-0360 today.Read More
One estate planning method that many couples use to avoid probate is called joint tenancy. This means that the two of you own the property together. As a result, if one spouse dies, the other will automatically own the property outright and thereby avoid having to through the mate’s estate to get ownership. Does the same concept apply to cars?
Joint Tenancy of Cars in California
Joint tenancy should help a car pass to the right person automatically. However, it is vital to register the car properly in both names. This is highlighted by a case involving two friends who co-owned a vehicle. When one of the friends passed away, the other expected to get full ownership of the vehicle since both names were on the title. But the court ruled that the title did not create joint tenancy but merely tenancy in common. As a result, the surviving friend received 50% ownership only, and the other half went to the deceased’s trust.
Knowledgeable Estate Planning Advice in San Diego
Knowing how to properly register your vehicle as joint tenancy is important if you want the car to avoid probate and pass immediately to the co-owner, whether that be your mate, another family member, or a close friend. The estate planning lawyers at Petrov Law Firm can help you to make sure you have taken care of all the details that will ensure a smooth transition. To get started on your estate plan and get the accompanying advice that you need, just call 619-344-0360.Read More
A living trust is a great way to simplify matters for your heirs and avoid probate. Since assets that are a part of a trust are passed on differently than those in a will, your heirs may receive their inheritance faster and with fewer legal fees. The difference is in the way the trust is funded. Only a correctly implemented trust will save time and money and avoid lengthy court proceedings.
Why Executing the Trust Properly Is Vital
A 2012 case in El Dorado, California brought this topic to the fore. In the case, an older woman had executed a trust leaving her home to her daughter. Three years later, she changed her trust to make her son the heir but failed to change the deed on the house. Thus, the conflict was whether or not the house should be left to the son or daughter.
In the end, the son received the house due to California law allowing for the transfer of the property to the new trust. However, it took 5 years longer than it should have for the son to get the home. So it still drives home the point of properly executing a trust in order to avoid long legal battles.
Help in Executing Your Living Trust in Sand Diego, California
San Diego, California residents can trust the experienced attorneys at Petrov Law Firm to help execute your living trust properly. This will make for a smooth transition in the future when your heirs receive their inheritance. To learn more and to start planning for the future today, call 619-344-0360.Read More
There is a lot to think about when a couple goes through a divorce, especially if they have been together for a long time and have a family. One major consideration is the status of your estate planning. What estate matters need to be considered following a divorce?
- Does your former mate still have power of attorney to make medical decisions for you?
- Was your spouse the trustee for part or all of your estate?
- Do you share a living trust?
- Is your ex still in your will?
- Is your former spouse listed on your bank, credit, or retirement accounts?
- Do you share any property?
While some of these matters may be resolved as a part of the divorce (for example, jointly owned assets may be liquidated), some things may need to get taken care of afterwards. If you become suddenly incapacitated either physical or mentally, it will be too late to make these changes, so now is the time to think about it.
Compassionate Assistance When Estate Plans Need to Be Adjusted
Life-changing events are never easy. It can be tough to think things through logically following a divorce, especially if you experienced many years together. Having a quality estate planning lawyer in your corner can be an important asset when it comes to making sure you’ve dotted all your I’s and crossed all of your T’s.
Petrov Law Firm has the compassionate attorneys who can help you to make the right decisions at your own pace. To schedule an appointment, call 619-344-0360.Read More
Some people take the extra time and effort to plan their own funeral and make it a part of estate planning. However, if you do not take this advanced step to outline the way you want your funeral to take place (and many people don’t), it raises the question: Who will plan the funeral?
Can Someone You Disinherit Plan Your Funeral?
You may be surprised to find that answer is yes. Let’s say you pass away and decide not to leave any money or assets to your children. It all goes to your favorite nephew. Out of the $100,000 you leave him, he decides to spend $15,000 of funeral arrangements at a nearby funeral home.
However, the disinherited children step in and decide to plan a $50,000 funeral at a location more convenient for them. Legally they can do that in California as closer relatives. Now half of our favorite nephew’s inheritance goes toward a funeral you didn’t want, that was planned by kids you had a falling out with.
Suddenly it becomes clear why planning a funeral ahead of time is so important, especially if you have close relatives you don’t want to have involved in the planning.
Planning Your Funeral in California
California residents can take control of funeral arrangements by making it part of the estate planning process. This can help a grieving spouse or children by making decisions for them in advance. It can also protect the assets left to another relative by overriding decisions that would otherwise have fallen on a closer relative according to state law.
If you have not yet made arrangements for your future funeral, the estate planning attorneys at Petrov Law Firm can be of assistance to you. Call 619-344-0360 and make an appointment to discuss your estate planning needs.Read More