Saying good-bye to a loved one is never easy, but it is far more difficult when left with an unorganized estate plan, complicated assets and no direction. One daunting task involves closing their accounts. The methods of closing accounts are not uniform and in some cases, it can become a frustrating or even drawn-out nightmare.
As many California residents may know, having an estate plan in place may help avoid bitter, lengthy and costly disputes when someone dies. The battle between Anna Nicole Smith's estate and her husband's family is testament to what may happen when an estate is challenged. While both Smith and the eldest son of the man she married are dead, the battle continues between the estate's heirs.
Michael Jackson’s estate is embroiled in more controversy. It was recently revealed that the King of Pop could have fathered a child, who is now 31 years old. Brandon Howard, who is the son of famed R&B singer Miki Howard, is rumored to be the son that Jackson sung about in his 1983 hit “Billie Jean.” Miki Howard apparently went by the nickname “Billy”, and in an example of art potentially imitating life, Jackson’s song, interestingly enough, has the lyrics, “Billie Jean’s not my lover, she’s just a girl who claims that I am the one, but the kid is not my son.”
California community property laws influence how estate assets are divided. A Los Angeles spouse cannot be disinherited involuntarily, and children or other relatives are not automatic heirs. According to California Probate Code Section 6400-6414, a will cannot prevent a surviving spouse from claiming half an estate, but the protection does not cover an unmarried partner.
A Los Angeles forensic accountant can be hired to place a fair market price on the estate assets you have, but only you and your loved ones know the worth of sentimental objects. Some of the worst squabbles in probate occur over property that has little or no value outside of a family.
Many people are hale and hearty throughout their whole lives, but many more suffer health problems as they age that make it difficult to continue to perform tasks that were once easy. It's not uncommon for older Southern California residents to get to a point where they cannot or do not want to handle finances effectively.
Drafting an estate plan can be as much about what you do want as it is about what you don't want. Maybe it has taken you several years to get to the point of meeting with an estate administration and planning adviser. Many Los Angeles residents want the distribution of assets issues finalized so they can get back to living instead of talking about dying.
Dying debt free in Los Angeles may be a goal, but it's often not a reality. In many states, leftover debt following a person's death is an estate's problem, not a direct concern for heirs. In California, community property laws sometimes force surviving spouses to pay a deceased spouse's bills.
Los Angeles residents may overlook the valuable, invisible assets they own known as intellectual property. For estate administration purposes, website domains and blogs, images, art or music you share through social media sites are assets that belong to you and, if you so designate, your heirs.
Silly Bands and Pogs from the 1990s and Cabbage Patch Dolls from the 1980s were collectibles that some people bought in quantity, with the idea that someday those childhood toys would be "worth something." Other than niche buyers, who today values a Cabbage Patch Doll the way they did in 1985?