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Estate Planning
If you’re considering doing a Will or Trust for yourself, or assisting another individual with their Estate Plan, it’s important to know who can legally execute estate planning documents. The ability to make a will or trust may also come in to question if you have a parent or relative who is under a conservatorship....
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Without a Will or Trust, the state gets to decide who will get your assets. In addition, the chances of a family fight are drastically increased. Even a basic, handwritten will can go a long way – and there’s only a few requirements to make it legally valid. So why do so many Americans put off...
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They say that only death and taxes cannot be avoided in life.  But if you are among the wealthy or personally own a business worth more than $5.45 million, you may be subject to being taxed even upon your death.  The “death tax” is quite a controversial subject, with each presidential candidate weighing in on...
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As many Star Trek fans may already know, 27 year old actor Anton Yelchin, known as “ Chekov” to fans, died in a freak car accident on June 19th when he was crushed by his Jeep Cherokee in the driveway of his Studio City home. Last Friday, Court records revealed he had no will or...
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I recently had a client come in to do a Trust, in hopes that he could protect his assets from his wife, who he was in the process of divorcing. Unfortunately for him, California is a community property state – which means that everything earned or acquired during a marriage belongs 50% to each spouse....
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What exactly is Separate Property? You have most likely heard that California is a “community property” state, which means all assets acquired during a marriage, by either spouse, belong equally to each spouse. In other words, despite who earns the income during a marriage, the income belongs equally to each spouse. The same is not...
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On June 25th, famed NY Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham died at the age of 87. Cunningham is best known for his Times columns, On the Street and Evening Hours, which have been running for over 25 years.  Highly regarded by New York’s fashion elite, Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour told the Times “we...
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Obergefell v. Hodges was no doubt one of the U.S.’s most important pieces of legislation if we truly are to be a country where all are created equal. As an attorney who is frequently sifting through the complexities of trusts, wills, and California intestacy laws, I wanted to know how Obergefell v. Hodges would change...
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If the debacle of music legend Prince’s Estate doesn’t inspire you to get your Estate Plan in order, I don’t know what will.  With an estimated $300 million at stake, multiple family members and people claiming to be family members, Minnesota Judge Eide announced they were entering “uncharted territory.”  With no will yet to be...
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Death is an emotionally charged situation. Wouldn’t you want to spare your loved ones the additional anxiety of dealing with questions that are left unresolved by a lack of preparedness?  Most of us would answer, “Yes”! But this is more difficult than it might seem, and also more complex than simply executing a Will or...
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Britain’s vote to leave the EU leaves our entire global economy in a state of uncertainty. It’s a further reminder that we, as individuals, have little power over the world at large. But we do (for the most part) have power over our own worlds – personal, emotional, financial, and otherwise. So why do so...
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Due to recent changes in estate tax laws, the bypass trust may not produce the savings it once did.  On the contrary, it may cost families more.  The bypass trust, also known as the A/B Trust, was once a popular estate planning tool. Consequently, many estate plans – especially those done prior to 2000- may contain one...
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Sumner Redstone is a media mogul and billionaire. He is 93 years old, purported to suffer from dementia, and an acting trustee of a trust containing 80% of the voting stock in CBS Corp. and Viacom. In other words, despite his apparent mental decline, he still has control of billions of dollars. He is also...
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If you’re young and have been dating someone for a number of years, you may consider whether or not you’ll tie the knot. But if you’re retirement age and are in a long term committed relationship, you should be considering what will happen if your partner passes away. Grim but true, many people who opt...
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Article By Matthew Talbot. This article was featured in June’s Issue of Lamorinda Moms. Despite being the home to the tech hub of America, Silicon Valley, California has yet to enact any legal guidelines for accessing digital accounts after someone dies. Yes, I am aware Facebook and a handful of other sites have their own procedures for...
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I recently got a phone call from a very kind 93 year old man. He had read one of my articles, and he told me he was calling me because my article said to call if one has any questions or concerns. I was glad he called. While he didn’t have a case for me,...
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As an attorney who works in the Trust and Estate field, I frequently run across the question of why someone should pay an attorney to do their Estate Plan. After all, a professionally done will, trust, or other estate planning document can cost between several hundred to thousands of dollars. Is it really worth it?...
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Over the next 30-40 years, it is estimated that baby boomers will transfer an unprecedented 30 trillion dollars to the next generation, resulting in the greatest wealth transfer of our time. In contrast, studies estimate the previous inter generational wealth transfer (still in process) at just $11 trillion.  Due to the proliferation of second and third marriages, the...
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March was proclaimed “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month” by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. President Reagan asked Americans to work toward providing both “encouragement” and “opportunities” to allow those with developmental disabilities to achieve their potential. In doing so, Reagan has given us all a chance to recognize the vast array of abilities and talents of...
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Who will have access to your social media accounts when you die? Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a law this month that allows for the legal access of digital assets. Oregon is the first state to draft a law that specifically provides for the transfer of assets such as Facebook and Instagram accounts. In California,...
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Who inherits your Investment Accounts if you die? Who gets your IRA? If you can’t recall, it’s worth double checking to make sure your designated beneficiary is someone you actually want to receive your money. If you have either separated from a spouse, or they have passed, this is particularly important. When correct, beneficiary designations...
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Many celebrities have failed to properly execute their estate plans, or do any estate planning at all for that matter. James Brown’s estate is still under litigation due to his vague and poorly written will, James Gandolfini and Philip Seymour Hoffman paid millions in estate taxes that could have easily been avoided, and Howard Hughes...
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Republican candidate Jeb Bush went all out for a recent tv ad, reminding viewers of his passionate involvement in the Terri Schiavo case during his term as governor of Florida. Schiavo’s husband Michael called Jeb “disgusting” for using his personal family matter for a campaign ad. Politics aside, the Schiavo case is a frightening reminder...
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The state of Illinois recently resolved the estate of Mary Petroff, a nonagenarian (new word! – “90’s”) who died in 2011. It took nearly 4 years for the state to find and confirm the 48 relatives who laid claim to her and her late sister Anne’s $1.36 million estate. The story of Mary and Anne’s...
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Tragedies in life, and in death, are all too common among celebrities. But there are some celebrity tragedies that continued even past the celebrities’ deaths. Naturally, their families and friends mourned their loss, but I’m not talking about personal tragedies. I’m speaking about Estate Planning tragedies. Whether they botched their will, handed over their trust to...
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Many of you may be familiar with the concept of an Estate Plan in California. And many of you may be aware of the fun new tv show, “Jane the Virgin” on CW. But are you aware that Monday night Jane and Rafael put together their estate plan for baby Mateo?  Before we get to...
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Does California Probate code make any allowances for differences or conflicts between an Advanced Healthcare Directive (California’s version of a Healthcare POA) and Power of Attorney? For example, a parent designates one child as their agent for the Healthcare Directive, and the other child as their agent for the Power of Attorney. The parent becomes...
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More than a few people have left wills which intentionally disinherit heirs. But few are known to have literally destroyed their own assets – thereby leaving nothing to be inherited or even fought over in court. But one Austrian grandmother was brave enough (or mad enough) to do just that. Austrian state prosecutor recently confirmed...
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As a Trust & Estate Attorney in the SF East Bay,  I strongly encourage friends, family, and clients to set up an Estate Plan – a trust in particular. Let there be no confusion – I do not recommend this because I believe attorneys should make money. Trust and Estate attorneys are largely in business...
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While there are no official reports that Hugh Hefner has dementia, he provides a great example of an elderly parent remarrying later in life. For those of you out of the popular news loop – Hugh Hefner married 29 year old Crystal Harris in late 2012. While Hefner reportedly had Crystal sign an “iron clad prenup,”...
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