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Los Angeles Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

What happens to tenants after a property owner dies?

As people get older, they often share their home with others. Sometimes these are family members or friends who help care for them so that they can avoid having to move into an assisted living facility. In other cases, they rent out a room or guest house to bring in some extra income. Some people maintain one or more rental properties in addition to their own homes.

Whatever the situation, if a loved one dies, you may be faced with the responsibility as the estate's administrator of determining what will happen to these occupants -- particularly if they are living in the home and have access to your deceased loved one's belongings. As the person with responsibility for the estate, you need to safeguard those and the property as a whole. You may need to prepare the house for sale or to turn over to a beneficiary per the terms of the will or trust.

Avoiding the probate process with death beneficiaries

Probate can take a lot of time and cost your estate a great deal of money after you die. For this reason, many California estate planners seek to prevent some of their assets from going through probate before distribution to heirs.

One common way to bypass probate involves the creative use of death beneficiaries. Death beneficiaries allow the transfer of wealth from one person to another without the complexities of probate.

The potential dangers of court-appointed guardianships

It seems as though comedians have taken an increasing large role in calling out issues that Americans need to know about. Whether you agree with a particular person's political opinions or not, it doesn't hurt to see if sometimes they might just be alerting you to something you need to hear about.

John Oliver does that regularly on his "Last Week Tonight" show on HBO. Just recently, he addressed a frightening reality for America's rapidly-increasing senior population (sometimes referred to as the "Silver Tsunami.") It involves court-assigned guardianships.

Handling creditor claims on a California estate

If a loved one died here in California owing money, it's essential to understand how to handle creditors' claims on the estate. These claims have to be filed within a year after the death of the person who owed money. If that deadline is missed, a creditor's claim is generally unenforceable.

If the estate has to go through probate, the claim is filed during these proceedings. If no probate or other court proceedings are required to settle the estate, a creditor has the option to open one to make a claim.

What is the executor's responsibility during probate?

If you are the executor of an estate going through probate your responsibilities can feel overwhelming -- especially if you've never had to complete the process before. For one, you'll be carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders, and if you make a mistake, you could be liable for your errors. Secondly, you might encounter various tasks that you don't understand how to complete -- such as navigating taxes, financial statements, real estate sales, property estimates and more.

In order to better familiarize you with the various responsibilities of an executor during probate, make sure you review the following list.

What is a trust protector?

The role of a trust protector is basically what the term states -- to protect the trust. Trust protectors became popular in the 1990s as offshore trusts boomed. However, now it's considered wise for just about anyone who sets up a trust to have one.

For example, say you set up a living trust for which you're the trustee for as long as you're alive. Upon your death, the person you've appointed to be the successor trustee takes over the role. That person administers the trust and dispenses the assets as you've designated.

You can detail your end-of-life care wishes in your estate plan

Shortly before her death this year, former First Lady Barbara Bush exercised her wishes for how she would spend whatever time she had left. In a public statement, Mrs. Bush, who had been suffering from pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure, said that she would "not…seek additional medical treatment and will focus on comfort care."

Estate planning attorneys stress that designating whether you want medical treatment and life-prolonging measures to continue when there's little if any chance of recovery is a crucial part of estate planning. As one California attorney says, "I think that, for Barbara Bush, she really wanted to feel at the end of her life loved and cared for, and she was able to remain in her own home." She adds that "for many individuals as they become older this thought of having to go someplace else can [make them feel] incredibly trepidatious."

Putting your parent in a nursing home: Tips and advice

Like most, you do your best to provide your elderly parent (or parents) with the at-home care they need. With this approach, you hope that he or she will be able to remain in his or her home for as long as possible.

There could come a time when you have no choice but to consider the benefits of putting your parent in a nursing home. Although this is a difficult decision, you may have to take control at some point.

Why you need a California Advance Health Care Directive

A thorough estate plan shouldn't just reflect your wishes for what happens after you die. It should also include directions to those caring for you if you become so ill or incapacitated that you can't speak for yourself.

That's why an advanced medical directive should be part of your estate plan and those of your loved ones. In our state, it's called a California Advance Health Care Directive. Sadly, only about 30 percent of Americans have such a document in place.

What can happen if you die with no will and no family?

Would you want local government employees deciding what happens to your belongings and even your body after you die? Virtually no one would. However, that can happen when people die without any type of estate plan in place and no relatives to be found.

Los Angeles and San Francisco, for example, both have Public Administrators' offices that handle affairs for people who die without a will or known heirs or when a named executor "fails to act." A decedent's heir can also ask the Public Administrator to handle the administration of an estate.

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