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Estate Planning Process

What does the estate planning process look like in California?  Here is an example of what you might expect: STEP 1: Find qualified estate planning attorney.  Ask us for our list of 7 questions to ask BEFORE hiring your estate planning attorney if you aren’t sure what to look for in an attorney. STEP 2: […]

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Letters Testamentary Even if No Assets

Letters testamentary (or letters of administration) are the key document in a California probate case. Letters is not actually a “letter” but rather it’s a legal document, akin to a court order, which allows the personal representative of the probate estate to stand in the decedent’s shoes. This allows the PR to deal with assets, […]

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Joint account ownership

What’s better joint account ownership or trust account ownership? Different account titling is better for different people in different situations.  However, in most cases ownership in the trust is the most flexible and long last answer.  For example, I was talking to a client last week who has a trust. Her adult son is co-trustee […]

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Guardians and Guardianships

There is both a guardian of the person and guardian of the estate. The former is actual care and control of your minor children and the other is financial control. Often people choose the same person for the jobs. However, in some cases people separate it out; for example after divorce! The key is naming […]

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When is Letters not a Letter?

“I need letters?” “What is a letter of testamentary?” “Why can’t I get letters of administration?” “Where do I get letters testamentary?” “How much does it cost to get letters testamentary?” “Does the attorney write the letters testamentary?” All of these are questions I have heard… and I could go on.  ”Letters” is simply the most […]

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Beneficiary Designations in Estate Planning

I just prepared wills for a young couple this week.  They have young children they want to protect.  They have modest IRAs, 401ks and life insurance.  However, they just can’t afford the expense of a living trust right now.  By preparing wills with “testamentary trusts” we have created an excellent estate plan that will protect […]

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Probate Purposes

A lot of people think about probate Court as the place you go to clear title to assets after a loved one has died. However, that’s really only half the equation. The other big issue is CREDITORS and LIABILITIES. At the end of probate you want to walk away with no reason to look back. […]

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Payable on Death

Just about every human being will make the same choice between these two options: 1) Pay a California attorney money; or 2) Not pay money to said California lawyer. As an attorney practicing since 1994 I get that. Most of us would rather do stuff ourselves than pay anybody but especially lawyers. I will not […]

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Grandparent to Grandchild Exclusion

Yesterday’s focus was the parent to child exemption for re-assessment in California property taxes. This is a booming area of law as Counties are desperate for tax revenue and finding people who do not do all their tax forms right can be an easy way to make more money. The key with property taxes is […]

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Parent to Child Exemption Form

Upon death or any other transfer of real estate in California you need to evaluate if a PT-58 form is required. It is the document which tells the county assessor that a transfer has been made, of real property, between a parent and a child.  This will preserve the parent’s property tax assessment or basis. […]

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