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
Just one of the many differences between a will and a trust is that wills are a matter of public record and trusts are confidential documents. As a result, if you choose to divide your estate by means of a will instead of a trust, you may be opening yourself or your heirs up to scams.
What Someone Can Learn from Your Will
If a scam artist is looking for a big score, all he has do is look through public records to find wills that divide up large estates. Now he can either go after that money through trying to run a scam on you personally, or if you don’t fall for it, he can add your heirs to a list and wait patiently for them to inherit the money.
How Much Do Scams Cost Seniors?
In just the first 3 months of 2016, more than 1.7 million dollars were stolen from seniors in the US using phone scams alone. That is hard earned money that should have gone to loved ones rather than a conniving stranger. Here’s one way to take the target off your back.
Safe Estate Planning Techniques
Implement safer estate planning methods by calling Petrov Law Firm. Our estate planning attorneys can help you set up a confidential living trust. No one should know how much money you have, and only your family should get it. Call 619-344-0360 today to schedule a consultation with the San Diego estate planning lawyers you can trust.Read More
Many people execute a living will without the assistance of an attorney. While trusts and other forms of estate planning may provide certain benefits, a person may decide a living will is enough if he only has a small estate. However, there are still a few situations where a person may want legal advice even for a living will or a healthcare document. Here are a few cases.
Worried About Family Disagreements
When it comes to healthcare, in particular, family emotions can flare. What one person said he or she is willing to do to follow your wishes may change in an emergency. If you are worried about a close family member fighting your medical wishes, consulting a lawyer to check your healthcare directive is a good idea.
You’re a Frequent Traveler
Medical documents are often only valid in the state they are executed in. If you spend a lot of your time in a neighboring state for work or other reasons, you may want to consult a lawyer to execute a legal document that bears the right language for multiple states.
You Need More than Just a Living Will
If you have more assets, you may want to consider other options such as trusts and other documents that can help your heirs to avoid lengthy probate issues. A capable estate planning lawyer can help you to see the best way to protect your assets and help your family in their time of loss.
To learn more from the estate planning legal experts at the Petrov Law Firm, please call 619-344-0360 to set up a consultation.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
If properly constructed by an estate attorney, the will has certain phrases to keep its general intent evergreen. For example, the will could use percentages instead of dollar amounts to ensure the entire estate is accounted for in the will. Instead of naming specific people, the will could use terms like “grandchildren” to ensure no one is unintentionally neglected.
If the will is more than ten years old, unaccounted dollar amounts could mean that the will is forced to go through probate court. For investors, high interest returns are fantastic. But unless those gains are accounted for through a well-worded will or updated estate plan, a measurable percent of the investment gains could end up going to pay for probate fees.
If you are a beneficiary named in an out-of-date will, hire an estate attorney to help you minimize the financial losses. The legal system will often take the “spirit” of a legal document into account; however you will need a good lawyer to help you argue this point.Read More
Even if you have a relatively small estate, you might face some uncomfortable questions by your family regarding your estate planning. Sometimes, these concerns are well-founded; and sometimes, the questions are simply rude.
“Do you have a will?”
Generally, this is an acceptable question. An estate that passes into probate can cost thousands of dollars in fees; many of which can be avoided by simply having a valid will. If a family members asks this questions, they may simply want to know where you keep your will. It’s not outrageous for a close family member to want to know the name of your estate attorney and the location of your will.
“What’s Your Plan for Your Estate?”
Occasionally, this is an appropriate plan. Generally, only the closest family members have the right to ask such a person question. Because financial circumstances can change so dramatically over time, a will is not a promise, but simply a plan that may need adjusting when your estate is released to beneficiaries. Sometimes, adult children with significant assets of their own may want to make a contribution to the overall plan. For example, an adult child might want to buy the family summer home in an attempt to keep it in the family instead of seeing it sold after you pass.
“How Much Will I Get When You Die?”
While there are several ways to answer this question, the best answer might be with your own question. “Why?” “How much will I get?” is a rude question, but it might be based in a pressing need. Instead of being offended, you might delve deeper to find out if there is something you can do while you are alive. For example, you might be able to offset the cost of tuition for a grandchild or offer a gift for a down payment on a house.Read More
Not all families get along, and the promise of an influx of inherited money can fuel the flames of anger, resentment, and greed. If you have a family member who is likely to battle over life’s little details, you might need to contact a lawyer to ensure your will (or a loved one’s will) can be easily defended, if contested.
If the will is more than three or four years old, visit a lawyer and give it an update. Even if there are no changes, document the review of the will. If the will ends up being reviewed by a judge, you will have the favor of the legal system if the will was recently reviewed for fairness and accuracy.
If you (or your loved-one) has started to see a decrease in mental ability, contact a lawyer to confirm your current mental status as sufficiently sound and validate the contents of the will. Decreased mental capacity is a strong basis for contesting a will. However, if you can confirm the text of the will while still with a generally sound mind, the will won’t be vulnerable to being contested.
If the will assigns a substantial percentage to one child over another; or if it assigns a significant amount of money to an organization, visit a lawyer and confirm the details. Again, anything that stands out as unusual could be grounds for contestation.
The more documentation around the creation of will, the better. Witnesses, doctor’s notes, and the help of a good estate planner will ensure that your wishes are carried out exactly as you want.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
If you own real estate in California, you will probably save hundreds or thousands of dollars (that could go to your family) by paying a lawyer to write your will. Most people don’t have to worry about any kind of estate tax. However, probate fees in California can easily eat up a measurable amount of money.
Even if you still owe money on your mortgage, if you have more than $100,000 in equity, you should hire an attorney to write a will for you. For example, if you bought your home for $90,000 in 1995, you still have a significant portion of the mortgage to pay off. However, that house you bought 20 years ago, is now worth $300,000 because of steep increases in real estate values. The California probate courts will see that you have at least $210,000 in home equity.
If you don’t have a will, the probate court will charge a 4% fee for processing your estate. On $210,000, the fee will be $8,400. Hiring a lawyer to write a basic estate plan will cost you significantly less than $8,400 — therefore allowing you to pass more money along to your beneficiaries.
Of course, home equity is just one piece of your total estate’s value. Bank accounts, retirement funds, and personal possessions all add into the value of your estate. Don’t hand over thousands of dollars to the state when you can avoid those significant fees with a simple will.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