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What happens when someone you love dies without a will?

Many people put off creating a last will or estate plan as long as they can, often until they approach retirement or start worrying about who will care for their children. Unfortunately, many people every year pass away without having any instructions regarding how their possessions and estate should be handled in the event of their death.

Have you signed a HIPAA release?

Imagine you suffer from a catastrophic health event. Maybe you have a stroke or you get into a car accident that leaves you unconscious and incapacitated. Your sister -- who is the closest person to you -- arrives at the hospital and asks the doctor about your condition and the doctor refuses to give her the information.

Consider these things as you choose a guardian

As we grow older, there comes a time when it is wise to consider giving another person the authority to make important legal and financial decisions on our behalf. These individuals may have a variety of duties, depending on the needs of the person they serve, and may go by a number of titles denoting their specific obligations and privileges. For the sake of brevity, we'll address legal guardianship.

Inheritance is not a birthright: Your estate plan is the law

When it comes to inheritances and estate plans, if the person who dies creates a legally valid estate plan, then this plan -- in conjunction with California law -- will dictate the dispensation of the estate. It doesn't matter if you're the wife, the son or the lover of the decedent, you are not entitled to receive anything that the estate plan and the law do not assign to you.

Do I have the right to live in my deceased parents' home?

When it comes to your parents' home, you might think that you have a natural right to live there, even after they pass away or become incapacitated. While this usually does not cause a problem, in some cases, a parent's home may pass ownership to someone else who does not wish for you to live there.

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.

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