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
Millennials are currently in your 20s and 30s, so estate planning may be the last thing you are thinking about. You are busy raising your kids, taking care of aging parents, and trying to make ends meet in a difficult job market. However, being busy is no excuse for failing to plan for the future. Here are three reasons that Millennials need to execute a will.
- You’re not invincible – It may feel like it right now, but there will come a time when you will wish that you had taken care of your estate planning earlier when you had more energy.
- You need to make advance medical decisions – If you become incapacitated or unable to speak for yourself, advanced medical decisions that are made as a part of your estate plan will allow you to have a voice and to appoint someone who can make decisions for you.
- An accident can happen to anyone – If an accident does occur and something happens to you prematurely, some still has to take care of your spouse, kids, parents, etc. Estate planning is how you provide ongoing care even if you pass away tragically.
Estate Planning Is a Sign of Love
Take care of your family, even if something happens to you. Estate planning helps carry out your wishes and can help your family to cope with the trauma of losing you. The Petrov Law Firm can help you to plan ahead for the future. Call 619-344-036 today to learn more about how we help California families.Read More
If you are debating whether to form a living trust as a part of your estate plan or to just leave everything behind by means of a last will and testament, this article may help you make that decision. We’re going to look at three things that make a trust superior to a will.
- Avoid Probate – Don’t make your assets have to go through probate court and be subject to an executor. Forming a living will can allow you to pass your estate directly to your beneficiaries. You can still include clauses that dictate how the trust is dispensed (for example, you can instruct the successor trustee to manage the funds until your heirs turn 18).
- Manage Your Own Trust – You can control what goes into your trust and serve as the trustee until you die. This gives you full control over the trust. You do, however, also have the option of appointing a trustee to care for things while you are still alive.
- Keep Your Estate Private – Trusteeships remain confidential, even after you die. A last will and testament becomes a matter of public record. This allows anyone to be able to see what was passed on to your heirs and could cause them to become the subject of scam attempts. So creating a trust may be a protection.
Are You Ready to Form a Living Trust?
Contact the California estate planning attorneys at Petrov Law Firm today to ensure that your assets go to your beneficiaries rather than to the courts. To learn more, call 619-344-0360 now.Read More
There are a number of ways to form a successful estate plan. Today, we will look at two options by means of a comparison. Here are three of the major differences between wills and trusts.
- Privacy – When a person dies, his or her will becomes public record. This means that anyone who knows you have died can see your will and find out what was left to your heirs. On the other hand, a trust is private. No one needs to know what you left to each of your beneficiaries.
- Timing – A will doesn’t go into effect until after you die. You can, however, set up a living trust and manage the assets yourself while still alive. You can also set up a trust and designate a trustee to take care of the financial side of things even while you are still alive.
- Probate – The executor of your will has to deal with the legal process of probate to distribute your estate to heirs. This can be time consuming and costly. A trust has the added benefit of avoiding probate and providing the inheritance directly to your beneficiaries (with whatever restrictions you may have imposed as part of the trust – i.e., not having money pass to minors until their 18th birthday).
Help in Preparing Wills and Trusts
For more information that can help you to make an informed decision on the best way to leave your estate to heirs, contact the Petrov Law Firm. Our estate planning attorneys can help you to draft a will, set up a trust, and take care of many other elements of planning for the future. Call 619-344-0360 to get started now.Read More
Estate planning is subject to different laws by state, so it is important to know how things such as Wills, Trusts, and Probate work in your home state. An estate planning attorney can be of great assistance in this regard, but here are 3 things to help you get started.
If You Have a Will, Your Estate Still Goes Through Probate
Some people are under the misconception that as long as they execute a Will, heirs automatically receive the inheritance. The fact is that even if you have a Will, you have to determine an executor who will take care of the probate process and help to ensure that your desires are carried out. How long the process will take depends on numerous factors.
Trustees Can Only Be Removed in Superior Court
That is where the probate division of court matters is handled. Some states will allow a person to utilize the civil court system to take action against a Trustee or to take care of other Trust matters. In California, civil suits cannot be filed for estate matters.
What Happens if You Die Without a Will or Other Estate Planning?
Intestacy law is a division of law that constitutes the state’s rules of inheritance. In California, the order of inheritance is: spouse, direct descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.), parents, siblings, grandparents. However, other factors may complicate this succession.
Taking Control of Your Estate Planning
Petrov Law Firm can help you to take control of your estate planning and navigate the many state and federal statutes that are involved. Call 619-344-0360 to get started on your plans.Read More
When someone has a will only and does not make use of a trust, the majority of the person’s assets will end up going through probate after his death. However, California law protects certain assets from going through probate. That means these assets will automatically pass to certain individuals. Which assets fall into this category? There are 4 specific groupings.
Life Insurance Policies – Your named beneficiary will be paid directly by the life insurance company.
Retirement and Pension Plans – IRAs and other retirement accounts will automatically pass to the beneficiary that you have named.
POD (Payable on Death) Accounts – When a POD account is set up, you select the beneficiary who will receive the account upon your death. These funds, therefore, do not go through probate as other bank accounts may.
Joint Tenancy Properties – Joint tenancy properties can include things such as a home, vehicle, or even a bank account. The advantage of having both names on a deed, title, or bank account is that these assets then avoid probate. The disadvantage is that creditors may be able to go after these assets for debts owed by the deceased.
Making Trust and Will Decisions in California
In order to keep your family from long and expensive probate battles, you may choose to use a trust to pass on your estate. However, the four means noted above also hasten the process and avoid probate even if you use a will only. Which option is best for you? The estate planning lawyers at the Petrov Law Firm will be happy to help you make these decisions so that your loved ones will be well cared for when you are gone.Read More
When you create a healthcare directive, frequently called a DNR or Do Not Resuscitate, you will need to select up to three people who will be willing to act on your behalf. You will select one primary health care agent along with two other contingency agents. One of these people will make your medical decisions when you have lost the ability to vocalize your own wishes.
Your agent will:
Select the hospital, clinic, or nursing home where you will receive care
Select your doctors
Approve all medical treatments
Decide on post-mortem issues such as organ donation and corporal disposal
Initiate any legal action to ensure your wishes are fulfilled
The person who becomes your health care agent will carry a significant responsibility. Make sure that you ask each person before adding them to your health care plan. In addition, make sure you share the health care plan with each person; one or more may have moral or religious beliefs that are in conflict with your wishes.
Most importantly, create a thorough health care directive. The directive become the guideline by which the agent will make all the decisions. If your directive is incomplete or vague, then the agent will be left to make difficult decisions without your guidance. Work with an estate attorney to ensure that your health care directive is complete and covers all of your final wishes.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
Prior to someone passing away, no one has the ”right” to review someone else’s will. Obviously anyone can ask to see the will, but generally this kind of request is considered presumptuous — even for close family members. After someone has died, the executor of the estate files the will in probate court. Once probate has begun, that will is part of the official court record and is therefore public record. Anyone can request to see the will at that point.
Who Can Contest a Will?
Not just anyone can contest a will. Here is the best measure to determine your rights – find out if you would be considered one of the legal beneficiaries had there been no will. If yes, then you can probably find cause for contesting the will. Keep in mind, there are very specific laws about determining legal beneficiaries. For example, if the deceased’s spouse is still alive, then no one but the spouse (not even the children) would be considered as automatic beneficiaries. After the spouse, the children are next in line, followed by the deceased’s parents. If you had been named as a beneficiary in a previous will, but were cut out of the most recent will, you might have cause to contest the will. An estate lawyer would be able to answer specific questions about that (or any other) case.
Can I Keep My Will Out of Probate Court?
Yes and no. You won’t be able eschew probate entirely, but you can prevent many of your assets from becoming part of public record. If your goal is to maintain privacy over your finances, work with an estate lawyer to construct the right set of trusts so you can protect your assets. Trusts are separate legal entities with the right to own assets such as investments and trusts. You can also pass these assets to beneficiaries without using probate. While there will be some assets left in your will to distribute (like your primary home or operating cash), you can keep the public from knowing too much about your personal finances.Read More
Naming your health care representative will be a critical piece of your living will or health care directive. Unfortunately, conflicts arise when a health care representative refuses to carry out the directives stated in the patient’s living will. Although the living will technically takes precedence over the word of a health care representative, these representatives have power of attorney and, in some jurisdictions, can revoke the original living will
In these circumstances, the cases will frequently go to court soaking up the time and energy of the family members left to discern the right choice. There is a simple, but difficult, solution to avoiding these kinds of conflicts. Talk to your family.
After you and your estate lawyer write your living will, sit down and discuss your decisions with your family. You may quickly discover that the person you’ve named as your health care representative will be unwilling to make these end-of-life decisions on your behalf. In addition, by clarifying these choices as your own, you reduce the likelihood of family members battling over options if you are incapacitated.
As medical treatments increase in their capacity to keep us alive, they also increase the chance of conflict over what are the right decisions for your end-of-life care. Take the time to carefully craft an effective health care directive and you will ease the burden on your family when you can’t speak on your own behalf.Read More