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Los Angeles Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

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.

Don't forget your estate plan when you and your spouse separate

The recent suicides of celebrity chef/travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade stunned the world, in part because they both seemed to have it all. They had something in common besides obviously not being as happy as they outwardly appeared to be. Both were separated from their spouses when they took their lives.

Many couples, for various reasons, decide to go their separate ways, but don't divorce for a long time or perhaps ever. While Spade hadn't spoken publicly about the state of her marriage, Bourdain had. He explained that he and his wife were focused on co-parenting their child. He said, "As a family, I think we've done a really good job and we're doing a really good job and would like to keep it that way."

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.

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