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.
When Californians don't have an estate plan, there's the chance that people whom they wouldn't want to have any authority to administer their estate may petition to do so. The case of a former television actor is evidence of this.
If a loved one asks you to be the executor of his or her estate, it's understandably not something you want to think about until you have to. However, after your loved one is gone, you're likely going to be in a state of grief and perhaps denial.
Disputes between widows and their stepchildren are among the most common type of estate battles. These can involve will and trust contests, accusations of elder financial abuse, deed revocations and much more.
Someone close to you is working on his or her estate plan and has asked you to be the executor. You're honored and a little frightened. What does it involve? Do you want to take on the responsibility? Do you have the time, temperament and skills necessary?
Your great aunt died, and you learn that because you were always her favorite, she left you her home. That may sound like an unexpected bit of good fortune amid the grief of losing a loved one. However, home ownership isn't all it's cracked up to be -- particularly if the house is old, in disrepair and/or simply not where you want to live.
People often put no-contest clauses in their wills because they don't want their family members or others fighting over what they see as an unfair division of assets. These clauses may state that anyone who contests a will and tries to invalidate all or part of it is disinherited completely.
Just because you prepare a will and other estate plan documents that are legally valid doesn't mean that there won't be conflicts among heirs, including siblings. If parents leave their home, for example, to just one of their children, the others may be hurt and angry.
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.
Estate planning attorneys are finding that people are increasingly drafting wills and other estate documents at younger ages than in the past. The unexpected deaths of so many celebrities last year got a lot of people thinking about their own mortality sooner than they might have otherwise. The widespread coverage of terrorist attacks and other violent events that costs people of all ages their lives can have the same impact.