People often think that California's community property laws are only relevant when couples divorce. However, they also apply to how property is disbursed and how debts are handled after someone's death.
Even though he lived to the ripe old age of 95, fans around the world were still devastated by the death of Stan Lee in Los Angeles earlier this month. As one of the creators of X-Men, Spider-Man, Black Panther, The Incredible Hulk and the Marvel Universe, Lee's fortune at the time of his death was estimated to be anywhere from $50 million to $80 million. His surviving family members are his daughter and a brother.
Many people who are seeking ways to simplify things for their loved ones after they're gone consider adding one or more of their children or other family members to the deed to their home. If you add an adult child, for example, to your deed, they become a co-owner of the property while you're alive. They can then inherit it when you die, and it doesn't need to go through probate.
Most people would assume that someone as wealthy and successful as Aretha Franklin would have had a detailed estate plan in place when she passed away recently. However, the "Queen of Soul" reportedly died without even a will — let alone any other documents detailing how she wanted her assets divided among her family and others.
Marijuana has been legal here in California for medicinal purposes since 2004. At the beginning of this year, its recreational sale and use was legalized. Therefore, many Californians engaged in cannabusiness, who are sometimes known as "ganjapreneurs," have accumulated considerable assets.
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).
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.
Recently, we discussed the battle over music legend James Brown's estate among those involved in his complicated personal life. Now the estate of another wealthy and colorful man, billionaire mogul Kirk Kerkorian, is the source of a legal battle here in California nearly three years after his death at 98 years old in June 2015. The state's attorney general is even involved.
Most people wouldn't assume that someone like Charles Manson had an estate worth fighting over. Manson, the "mastermind" behind multiple murders in the Los Angeles area in 1969, died in prison last year. These were infamously known as the "Manson murders," and involved the deaths of nine people, including actress Sharon Tate, who was pregnant at the time.
One of the reasons that many Californians put an estate plan in place is so that their heirs can avoid probate. Probate is basically the legal process of settling an estate.