Effective the first of the year in 2016, California introduced a deed that can automatically transfer property upon a person’s death. While this may seem advantageous as opposed to hiring a lawyer for estate planning purposes, there are several extreme flaws in the law. Here’s what you need to know before preparing a TOD Deed.
Why a Transfer on Death Deed Isn’t Foolproof
There are two major reasons that the Transfer on Death laws don’t provide as much benefit as trusts and other forms of estate planning.
- You Cannot Set the Transfer Conditions – With a trust, you can set the age at which a benefactor inherits the property. You can also have a contingency plan for inheritance should the primary benefactor die before or at the same time as you. When it comes to a deed, there are no additional conditions. The property simply passes to the named person when the deedholder dies.
- The “Restitution Demand” Clause – An estate representative can demand the return of a property within a set period of time from the death of the owner – 3 years. This could leave the Transfer on Death recipient homeless. Or if the property has already been sold, the beneficiary would have to pay back the value of the home, perhaps even more than it was sold for. This gives the executor of the estate true power over the property for the first 3 years.
A Better Way to Avoid Probate when Leaving Property to Heirs
Setting up a trust is a far superior way to leave property to heirs without having to worry about probate. While estate planning with an attorney may cost more than getting a Transfer on Death Deed issued, the benefits far outweigh any inconvenience. To take advantage of affordable estate planning with an experienced attorney, contact Petrov Law Firm today at 619-344-0360.Read More
Giving someone power of attorney mean that they have the authority to act on your behalf in situations legally outlined by you. For example, you may provide someone with power of attorney regarding your medical decisions should you be unconscious and unable to make decisions for yourself. Or you may choose to give someone the ability to act on your behalf in financial or legal matters, especially in connection with estate planning and financial decisions that may need to be made if you suffer from mental deterioration later in life.
The big problem people often run into when it comes to providing power of attorney is that many people decide to draw up papers using examples they see online rather than having a lawyer draft a legal document. Also, sometimes choosing the wrong person can cause issues. As a result, problems can arise involving the following situations:
- Power of attorney is not used in line with a person’s wishes. For example, a man may remarry later on in life and give his new wife power of attorney. She may use this authority to ensure her children receive all of the family’s inheritance, cutting out children from previous marriages.
- The documents were executed incorrectly. The person who is supposed to have power of attorney wants to act as requested. However, because paperwork was handled improperly, he or she legally does not have power of attorney.
These are just a couple of examples of ways that power of attorney issues can make a mess of one’s estate. So the question to ask yourself is: Is it time to update my power of attorney?
Ensure Power of Attorney Documentation Is Accurate
To avoid the problems noted above and other estate planning issues, come and see us at Petrov Law Firm. Our experienced estate planning lawyers can help you to update your power of attorney documentation to ensure the right person has the correct amount of authority and that documents are legally drafted and executed. Call 619-344-0360 to get started now.Read More
A Power of Attorney is a document that gives someone you designate the power to act in your place. Having a power of attorney allows you to pick someone you trust to handle your affairs should you become unable to do so. Having one can be more important to your well-being than a will and it gives you peace of mind and reassurance that, in an emergency, someone you choose will have the authority to act for you. While having a power of attorney is a good idea and part of responsible estate planning, consider carefully about what kind is best for you.
A springing power of attorney, sometimes called a conditional power of attorney, is a legal document that comes into effect after certain conditions are met, typically when the person who created it, called the principal, becomes disabled or mentally incompetent. It can be used in a variety of situations that are established by the principal and does not necessarily have to involve trigger with mental or physical incapacity. If you choose springing power of attorney, you should be prepared to define exactly what kind of event will lead to activation of the power of attorney.
A durable power of attorney becomes effective once you sign the document and continues to be effective if you become incapacitated but are still cognizant. For example, you can designate your son or daughter to have power of attorney over your finances or assets because they are better with money or because you do not have the time.
Power of attorney laws differ slightly from state to state. California durable power of attorney laws grant the named individual to make decisions related to medical care and treatment of the principal. Your estate planning attorney can provide more information about California-specific laws surrounding power of attorneys. Abuses of power of attorney can occur in any situation. It is best to discuss this potential with an experienced attorney who will help address all your questions and point out important qualities when choosing a power of attorney so you can select someone who will have your best interest in mind.Read More
If you were injured while on public land or city property, contact a lawyer to help you determine the likelihood of your claim yielding a financial recovery. While cities, counties, and states must follow the laws they are sworn to enforce, suing a government body is more complicated than suing your neighbor.
Generally, ask yourself if it’s reasonable that the city be held responsible for your injury. Tripping and falling on an uneven sidewalk is not likely to be seen as a viable claim. However, if the city was negligent by improperly installing a handrail that broke when you used it, you can probably make a case for recovering the cost of medical bills and lost wages.
Many states protect governmental bodies with immunity from lawsuits. Generally, this immunity can be waived in the face of gross negligence. However, the immunity laws are broadly worded so as to provide as much protection for the city as possible. For example, if your car gets damaged in the course of high speed police chase because you didn’t move in time to allow the police to pass easily, the immunity laws will favor the police.
If you and your lawyer feel the city was grossly negligent, you might find the city is ready and willing to settle. Many cities self-insure — meaning there isn’t an insurance company to slow the process and question every claim. Don’t delay. When suing a government body, you will have to show a preponderance of evidence. But if you have a solid case, you might find the city willing to quickly pay your claim.Read More
If you die without a will, it’s very possible that your family will have to wait for a probate court to review your assets and distribute them according to state laws. While a will is a good way to avoid probate courts, you can consult with your estate planning attorney to review a few of the other options for you.
Assets such as a 401k, life insurance policy, and an annuity have beneficiary designations. Upon your death, these kinds of accounts generally do not have to pass through probate. The beneficiaries will have to do little more than to prove their identity and show a death certificate to take possession of the asset. Some states allow this same kind of benefit with bank accounts and investment accounts. These can be called a Transfer on Death (TOD) or Payable on Death (POD) account. A life estate deed is an option for avoiding probate for real estate.
Review the legal implications of how you hold real estate. There are several options for how to hold real estate. For example, if your deed says “Tenants in Common” your real estate will have to pass through probate before it can be distributed. You can consult with an estate planner to ensure your assets are properly designated.
Lastly, you can avoid probate by giving all of your assets away before you die. Luckily, you can put a lot of your assets into a trust (there are several kinds) that will benefit whomever you choose during your life and afterward. An estate attorney can help you create the proper kind of trust for you and your family.Read More
Should you select a sole law practitioner (just one lawyer) or will a large law firm better serve your needs? There are several factors to consider when selecting your personal injury law firm. If you are uncertain about your case, interview two or three law firms and select the one that seems most responsive to your case.
Not all law firms are right for everyone. A small law firm of just a few lawyers may not have the experience and resources of a large firm. However, a small firm is likely to take more time to listen to you as a client and spend more time on your case. In addition, if the lawyer has recently passed the bar or is just starting out on his or her own, you might be able to negotiate a lower price.
If a large firm agrees to take your case, it’s more likely that you will be treated like a number than a person. In addition, you are probably going to spend more time with paralegals than with the lawyers. The same lawyer may not handle your case from beginning to end — so if your case is unique or complicated in some particular way, you may get frustrated repeating the circumstances of your injury to a new lawyer every time you deal with the firm. Large firms operate like well-oiled machines — so if you are a highly emotional person, you might find the environment cold and impersonal.
Medium-sized law firms tend to be a good fit for personal injury. They usually have sufficient experience to know all of the twists and turns of personal injury law. You are more likely to deal with the same people during the course of your case. And lastly, personal injury is personal. A medium-sized law firm is going to treat you like a person.Read More
Not all home-based businesses need business insurance. However, if you have a home-based business, consider seeing a personal injury attorney to ensure you are not vulnerable to lawsuits. While your insurance agent might be knowledgeable about coverage, you might not get the best answer about potential lawsuits unless you speak to a legal professional.
An independent graphic designer who only conducts business over the phone is unlikely to be sued with personal injury claim.
Don’t count on your homeowner’s insurance policy to cover an accident that occurs at your home if you are conducting business while the accident happens. While you might be able to include a home-based business clause for a small premium increase, most basic policies won’t cover such accidents. If your client falls while visiting you at your home, you may be fully responsible for all medical costs and lost wages.
A significant number of network marketing businesses (Avon, Partylite) conduct business both at the business owner’s home and at the client’s’ home. Once the Avon make-over party gets started at the client’s house, it becomes a place of business. One slip of an eyeliner pencil could mean an expensive lawsuit for you.
The same is true for driving while on a business errand. If an insurance company can prove that you were on the way home from a business meeting when a car accident occurred, your auto insurance policy will likely not pay out for any damages.
The best defense is a strong offense. If you meet with clients at home, drive as part of your business, or conduct sales on site, you are vulnerable to lawsuits. Contact a personal injury lawyer to help you determine the exact kind of coverage you need to avoid costly lawsuits.Read More
Either intentionally or unintentionally, your will can change meaning with an act of independent significance. Generally, this means that your will has a statement or clause that is vague and can change meaning based on circumstances.
For example, if you are part owner of a business, you can state that you want your shares in the business to be distributed to “the other legal owners.” You’ve avoiding listing the names of the other owners knowing it’s possible that list will change over time. This is also helpful when indicating what you want to go to your “children” or “grandchildren” in case the family grows after you complete the will.
Another independent change can be in the contents of a house, bank account, safe, etc. You can simply state that the assets for distribution are the “contents of my house.” Between the writing of your will and your death, the contents of your house will likely change. Therefore, the recipients get the contents that are in your home at the time of your death.
In addition, you can state in your will that you will write further instructions for distribution. So if you know how much money you want to go to charity, but you haven’t selected the charity, you can choose the recipient at later time.
A good estate lawyer will help you construct a will using acts of independent significance to ensure your assets are distributed exactly as you intend.Read More
The most basic of health care directives is the DNR – Do Not Resuscitate. This can be easily placed in your medical record by your physician. Simply said, if your heart stops or if you stop breathing, no one will perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
However, if you don’t wish to be resuscitated, you need to share that information. It’s probably best to have a medical bracelet stating your DNR order. In addition, you should share this information with your family and with any doctor you see in a critical or urgent situation.
Most people with a simple DNR are already elderly or critically ill. Typically, the DNR helps the patient avoid a long death or a brain dead state.
A living will is generally more thorough than the DNR. A living will should be completed with your estate planner. Generally, a living will includes a long list of medical conditions and medical treatments with instructions by you as to how to proceed with each.
Lastly, you can turn over any other decisions to a medical POA (power of attorney). Your doctors will seek direction from your medical POA if your DNR or living will does not address the details of your medical state. Your medical POA will bear the burden of making end-of-life decisions on your behalf.
Because medical treatments are continuously finding ways to extend our lives, even without comfort or consciousness, it’s important to make end-of-life decisions now. In addition, our litigious society is making physicians nervous to make the best decisions for us. Work with an estate lawyer to make those medical and legal decisions now while you can.Read More
Generally, insurance companies don’t want you to call a lawyer if there has been a car accident or personal injury accident. Insurance companies are constantly trying to find ways to avoid paying out large settlements. To them, lawyers mean expensive settlements.
Some insurance companies will go as far as to send you a letter explaining how a lawyer will make the settlement process longer and more expensive. In fact, some insurance companies will imply that by contacting a lawyer, you are responsible for the high price of insurance premiums in general.
At the same time, insurance companies are encouraging customers to opt for higher deductibles as this drives down the number of small claims. In other words, insurance companies don’t want to be bothered with your small problems and don’t want you to question how they handle the big problems.
If you are confused or conflicted about contacting a lawyer about a recent car accident or personal injury, take comfort — it won’t cost you a dime for a consultation. In fact, most law firms will take your case on contingency — so they only get paid when you do.
Gathering information is logical first step when confronted with the complex and highly litigious world of accidents and injuries. You are really only at risk of losing out on valuable information.Read More