WHY “DO IT YOURSELF/FILL IN THE BLANK” WILLS & TRUSTS OFTEN RESULT IN DISASTER Retaining the services and expertise of an attorney who can assist you in preparing a smart estate plan requires a serious investment of time and money. The benefits (however) far outweigh whatever the upfront costs may be. Having the assurance and peace of mind that you and your family will be legally and financially protected in taking on the challenges of the future is inestimable. However, these guarantees vanish immediately when one chooses to forgo retaining experienced legal advice and opting for the “do-it-yourself” approach to estate planning. Many unpleasant scenarios and real potential dangers await those who want to save a few dollars in the short-term; and whose loved ones will probably end up having to pay tens of thousands of dollars correcting their mistakes. Everyone is unique. No two families are the same. The slick advertising that online legal services utilize (especially with using formercelebrity attorneys to pitch their offerings) cannot deny this simple fact: virtual legal document preparers that promise cheap, fill in the blank options for estate planning will never replace the professional, confidential relationship between a lawyer and his/her client. When circumstances require urgent technical advice and counsel, these do-it-yourself websites are of no use to a distraught client. Their staff is prohibited from rendering any kind of practical legal guidance to consumers. If you are making a terrible mistake in your estate planning, they can’t prevent you from doing so (the   unauthorized practice of law is a criminal offense in all 50 states). In addition, these online services...

California Estate Planning Laws and your Family – First in a Series: Bicycle Laws – California Vehicle Codes

When parents plan their estate distribution, it is almost always centered around the idea that they are going to make their children’s lives better.

All the parents’ hard work, legacy, morals, beliefs, and visions are for the benefit of the child to pass it along generation to generation.

The Slayer Statute

“Oh you are an Attorney, I have a question or two for you…?” July 4th BBQ’s and other social events are always a fun time to gather and talk to people you haven’t seen for awhile.  Some people talk about their kids, jobs, and vacations.  And then there are the others.  These people find out what you do for a living and then ask you law school finals questions.

So You Have Been Named Executor of An Estate – What Does It Mean?

An executor is a person named by a Will in charge of wrapping up the decedent’s estate and making sure that the wishes of the decedent are followed. Often, people name close friends or relatives as executors of their estate, reflecting on that person’s trustworthiness, reliability, and managerial ability. People named as an executor frequently feel a sense of validation or honor at their designation, recognizing that it is a big deal to be left in charge of someone’s Will—but perhaps not recognizing the staggering amount of responsibilities and potential liability that accompany this distinction. An executor’s duties are imposed upon them by the probate code, and though the task of concluding an estate seems simple on the surface, it can be fraught with complications. The marquee duty of an executor is known as a “fiduciary duty,” meaning that the executor must act honestly, in good faith, and in the best interest of the beneficiaries of the estate. Any breach of these duties may expose an executor to personal liability if the beneficiaries choose to sue—something few executors expect. A typical estate, without any complications, can still take up to one year or more to conclude. During this time, an executor can expect to doing the following: Paying debts of the Estate Paying taxes due by the Estate Distributing assets to beneficiaries Creating and managing Estate accounts for handling expenses File the Will with the probate court, follow filing deadlines and instructions, notifying beneficiaries and named parties It is important to distinguish the role of an executor from that of a trustee. A trustee is a different type of...