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Los Angeles Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Why you need an estate plan if you're young and single

Americans are staying single for longer -- often through their 20s and into their 30s. Often single people don't have any kind of estate plan in place, particularly if they have no children and don't yet own a home or have significant assets.

However, even if you opt not to yet draw up a will, there are a couple of estate planning documents that you should have in place to protect you, ensure that your wishes are respected and save your loved ones considerable stress, time and money should you become incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. That can happen in a blink of an eye in a car crash or due to some other injury.

Joint property can help you avoid probate for part of your estate

Most California residents want to spare their heirs the difficulty, time and costs associated with probate proceedings. There are a lot of different strategies one can employ to eliminate the need for probate. One way involves the elimination of probate for specific assets, and it involves the use of joint property.

Let's say you own a classic Mustang convertible and you'd like your grandson to receive the vehicle after you're gone. However, you don't want your grandson to wait through probate proceedings to get access to your car. By giving your grandson joint ownership of the vehicle, when you die, the car will automatically be his, and it won't have to go through probate.

Review your estate plan before you remarry

If you're remarrying and haven't yet created an estate plan, now is the time to do so. It can prevent issues among your children, new spouse and previous spouse if you pass away or become incapacitated to the point where you're no longer able to speak for yourself.

If you already have an estate plan, good for you! Now you need to look it over with your estate planning attorney to make any necessary changes to reflect your new circumstances and prevent the problems noted above.

Can I challenge a will if I think it is unfair?

Dissatisfied family members have attempted to challenge wills ever since their creation as a tool to make one's end of life wishes known and pass on property to heirs. It is, in many ways, a fixture of the process for many families.

These days, however, the notion "I deserve this particular piece of property, it's my birthright!" carries far less weight than do the terms of the will and the federal and state-level laws that govern estate planning and will execution.

Family legal battles over Casey Kasem continue

Many of our readers recall the bitter dispute between Casey Kasem's wife and his adult children in the year prior to his death. The former American Top 40 host was suffering from Lewy body dementia, among other medical conditions.

Kasem's three oldest children from his first marriage were battling with his wife Jean over their father's care. In 2013, the Kasem children went to court to seek more access to their father and decision-making ability over his health care.

Developing an estate plan after you have a baby

Many Californians don't consider developing an estate plan until they have a child. Then, the primary consideration is often who will be that child's guardian(s) should both parents pass away or be unable to care for their offspring.

That's certainly not something that anyone wants to consider, but it could happen in the blink of an eye in a car accident, plane crash or other catastrophic event. Even if you have parents and siblings who love your children and would make good caretakers, by failing to codify that, your loved ones could well end up in court fighting to be appointed guardians.

Tips for choosing a guardian for your minor child

Creating an estate plan can be a challenging process. This is even more so the case if you have a child who is under the age of 18.

If you find yourself in this situation, you need to ask yourself a very important question: Who will care for the child in the event that you and your spouse pass away? This is not something that anyone wants to think about, but it's the responsible thing to do.

Experienced guidance when you're seeking a conservatorship

A debilitating injury or illness can occur at any time, even to young and seemingly-healthy people. When people are no longer able to look after their own interests, whether due to dementia or some other condition, and they don't have an estate plan designating someone to do so in their stead, it may be necessary to set up a conservatorship.

Obviously, as estate planning attorneys, we recommend that people have an estate plan in place to ensure that their wishes are carried out and to save their family unnecessary costs, time and stress. However, if that hasn't been done, we can assist you with initiating conservatorship proceedings.

What should you know if you inherit a payable on death account?

Even people who don't have a will or estate plan can designate a beneficiary on their bank accounts. This is known in the banking world as a payable on death (POD) account. It prevents the account from going into probate and allows the beneficiary to have access to the funds simply by presenting the death certificate of the account holder.

If you're the beneficiary of a POD account, it's essential to understand what the tax and other financial ramifications are to you before you do anything with the money. It's wise to consult an estate planning attorney to help prevent any negative unintended consequences. These may include:

Know what property can bypass probate

The probate process is one that many people find difficult to handle when their loved one passes away. While there are some cases that involve wills and other estate planning tools, some people pass away intestate.

A loved one who dies intestate doesn't have a will or estate plan in place. This means that the loved ones who are left behind would have to determine where everything goes. However, all of this must be in accordance with the intestate laws. Here are some points to know if your loved one died intestate.

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