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Los Angeles Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Why 'micro estate planning' is valuable for parents of young kids

As we frequently discuss here, a thorough estate plan can help you provide for your loved ones after you're gone and also help them avoid costly probate fees and unnecessary taxes. If you have minor children, you can designate one or more guardians in your estate plan to care for them if you and your co-parent both died or became incapacitated.

However, as one financial advisor notes, parents of young children would be wise to go one step further. That involves something he has termed "micro estate planning."

How to include your cryptocurrency in your California estate plan

Cryptocurrency has become increasingly popular in recent years. These digital assets are popular not just with experienced traders, but with everyday folks hoping to strike it rich with the next initial coin offering (ICO).

Part of the intrigue and appeal of cryptocurrencies are their anonymous nature. However, that anonymity means that if you don't take the proper steps when drafting your estate plan, your cryptocurrency investments be lost in cyberspace when you pass away.

Challenging an estate with a no-contest clause in California

There are numerous reasons why you may need to contest a will or estate plan in California. Maybe your parent remarried, and his or her spouse applied a lot of pressure toward having the will changed. Perhaps your loved one made drastic changes to the will in the last weeks of his or her life, during a stage of serious mental decline. There are many valid reasons to question a last will's contents.

Whatever the reason, it is important to understand that your rights as an heir are somewhat limited under the law. In some cases, bringing a challenge can even affect your ability to inherit anything at all. If the person who passed on included a no-contest clause in one's will, bringing a challenge in the courts could actually result in losing your inheritance.

Developing a multigenerational estate plan

In many California homes, multiple generations of a family live under one roof. Young adults may move back in with their parents for a time after college until they can afford a place of their own. As people live longer, baby boomers are taking in elderly widowed parents so that they don't have to live alone or move to an assisted living facility. With the high cost of owning property in Southern California, at some point, it may be a financial necessity for parents, grandparents and adult children to share a home.

Sometimes, seniors may not want to give up their homes, but may not be able to care for or navigate a large multistory home. They may let children or grandchildren move into the home while they keep a small section of it for themselves.

Will challenges based on lack of testamentary capacity

Most California wills go through probate without any challenges. However, there are some grounds on which family members, heirs or others who believe they should have been included in the will can challenge them.

One of the most common reasons for a will challenge involves the decedent's testamentary capacity. Under the law, people who have testamentary capacity are able to understand:

  • What a will and other estate documents mean
  • What it means to dispense their assets via the will and other documents
  • What property and other assets they have and their value
  • That they are using the will and other documents to distribute their assets
  • The people they're expected to include as their beneficiaries

Your attorney can help you prevent contests to your estate plan

If you are a Californian who doesn't have an estate plan in place -- even a simple will or trust -- your assets will be distributed after your death according to the California Probate Code. This law delineates what percentage of a deceased person's assets various family members are entitled to receive simply by virtue of their familial connection.

Of course, one of the many advantages of having an estate plan is that you can determine how you want your assets divided among your heirs and other beneficiaries. For example, maybe you aren't close to your siblings. Perhaps you've given your children every advantage and now they're comfortably self-sufficient. You may have had a serious falling out with a parent who's still alive.

How to handle an estate properly as executor in California

When someone loves you and trust you, he or she may be willing to entrust you with important responsibilities. That could include naming you as the executor of one's estate in the last will or estate plan. Typically, people tend to discuss this decision with family members and loved ones before committing it to paper. However, it does happen that people find out after the death of a loved one that they were named executor.

Regardless of whether you have had years to prepare for this role or just found out about it after the death of someone you were close to, there are steps you can take to protect your role and the estate involved. Being proactive in handling the estate can cut down on issues, like a challenge that could drag you and the estate into probate.

Can you include your frequent flyer miles in your estate plan?

There's been significant media coverage of the tragic, untimely death of celebrity chef, author and world traveler Anthony Bourdain, who introduced viewers of his television show to people he met and shared meals with across the globe.

It's no wonder that among the considerable assets he left behind were airline frequent flyer miles. It's not known how many thousands or perhaps millions of miles Bourdain had when he passed away. However, he reportedly left them to his wife, from whom he was separated, to "dispose of in accordance to what she believes to be his wishes."

Can you remove a trustee from a trust?

There are times when you will want to have a trustee who oversees your trusts. However, there are also times when you should consider not having a trustee at all.

Removing a trustee can be a good way to eliminate the possibility of trouble with your trust, especially if things are going wrong already. Here are three reasons to remove a trustee right away.

Cutting someone out of a will can lead to a family rift

Did your parents leave unequal amounts to different family members in a will? Or perhaps they cut someone out entirely.

They do have a right to do this. It's their will. It's their estate. However, these decisions can have long-term ramifications. This one choice could cause a rift between family members that never heals.

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