You are finally going to take that important step of making a will—congratulations! Like many Californians, you are making a responsible decision for your family and heirs. While you are gathering your thoughts and financial documents, there are a few additional items to consider before you begin planning.
For many Californians, the last aspect of a family member's death that comes to mind is the money left behind. First, surviving family must discuss funeral costs and plans, help other family members cope and even decide the next step for a surviving elderly spouse or minor children. However, financial steps during this time are generally a necessity, and some surviving family find themselves in a situation they had never imagined before: a dispute over inheritance.
Many people in Los Angeles may feel as though they do not need to dedicate their time and effort into planning their estates because they have little to pass on to beneficiaries. The fact that small estates are often able to avoid probate seems to support this assumption. However, one's estate goes beyond his or her liquid assets. His or her name, likeness, works or intellectual properties can bring in future revenue. The control over the use of such properties is exercised by one's estate, which requires that one have an executor and named beneficiaries who can benefit from their use.
When an estate trustee in California appears to be untrustworthy, state laws give you some options to protect trust assets while you work to prove your case. According to the American Bar Association, California courts recognize that, if assets are not frozen at the beginning of litigation, there may not be much left by the time a case has been made against the trustee.
Yes, you may likely be able to charge a fee in California for the executor work you perform on your mother’s estate. California does have legal requirements and limitations, however, so it is not an unfettered right to charge whatever you see fit.
When a parent dies, the last subject siblings generally prefer to discuss is that of a will. Yet it is not uncommon for surviving family members to become involved in disputes over the details of a will that a parent leaves behind. When such a conflict arises in California, there are many routes to solutions; however, there are an equal number of warning signs that can help surviving family avoid these stressful situations altogether.
Once an estate has been sent to probate in California, the court transfers the property or money to the proper beneficiaries. However, disputes may arise regarding whether a will is valid. If the deceased person did not have a will filed, sibling disputes or conflict between other interested parties may arise as to how the court should properly divide the assets.
If you have been asked to serve as the personal representative for a family member or friend's estate in Los Angeles, then unless you have prior experience in probate law, estate administration or asset appraisal, you are likely viewing your new responsibilities with a certain degree of trepidation. Not to worry; the court understands that not everyone is an expert in estate matters. One of the most important aspects of preparing an estate for probate is determining its value. If your loved one's estate consists of a large amount of non-monetary assets, that may be difficult. Fortunately, you can call upon the assistance of a probate referee.
When the surviving children of a recently passed California parent go through the probate process, emotions far greater than grief can flare. Old resentments can rear their heads, particularly if the last parent has not carefully planned specifically to prevent adding fuel to the flame. Often, communication is the most important tool.
There are times in California when those left behind believe that the loved one who left a testamentary will, did not have the mental capacity to legally execute such a document. They believe that he or she was not of sound mind. Lack of testamentary capacity may be a basis to contest a will.