When a California resident dies, that person's estate may need to go through probate. This ensures that the deceased individual's will is valid, a person's assets can be inventoried and that outstanding bills can be paid. At the time a probate case is opened, an executor will be appointed to represent the estate. The executor could be a spouse, a family friend or an attorney. If the deceased person appointed an executor in his or her will, that person will usually fulfill the role.
Aretha Franklin has likely taught California residents many lessons about the importance of estate planning. Since her death in August 2018, Franklin's niece had acted as the executor to her estate, but she gave up that role in January 2020, citing conflicts with other family members. The former personal representative said that she would not fulfill the role if it led to fractured relationships between family members. She also said that she would give up her position if disputes couldn't be settled outside of court.
People in California who are considering creating an estate plan or who have recently lost a family member may have heard the word "probate" and wondered what it means. This is a process that involves validating the will, if there is one, and taking care of the person's estate, which could include distributing assets and paying taxes.
The movie "Knives Out"tells the story of a man who has changed his estate plan just before being found dead. However, it is important for California moviegoers to remember that the movie isn't an accurate portrayal of what happens when a person dies. For instance, there is generally no reading of the will by an executor or attorney after the testator dies. Of course, family members and other interested parties may be able to contest a will even if it's not read out loud.
After musician Tom Petty died in California in 2017, his wife and two daughters from a previous marriage ended up in litigation. The two daughters sued Petty's wife for $5 million, claiming she superseded their rights in managing the estate.
People in California create an estate plan with the intention of ensuring that beneficiaries receive their intended inheritances. Unfortunately, unscrupulous family members might interfere. This can happen in the form of undue influence, convincing the person that the will or trust should be altered. It can also happen if a person destroys documents or takes some of the money from the estate that is not authorized.
There may be several advantages for some people in California who want to use joint tenancy with right of survivorship to pass on property although certain conditions must be observed as well. This approach can allow property to pass without going through the probate process.
The death of high-profile movie director John Singleton has thrown the need for estate planning into sharp relief. Singleton, who passed away in Los Angeles in April 2019 at the age of 51 after a sudden stroke, left behind only a long-outdated will. As a result of this lack of planning, family members and potential heirs could be locked in a long-running dispute over the distribution of the estate, and a far smaller portion of Singleton's assets than intended may wind up being shared among his heirs.
California residents may be interested in the potential benefits that come from creating electronic wills. The Uniform Electronic Wills Act is allowing individuals in some states to create and sign wills online. Before an individual decides if an electronic will is the right option for them, there are some things they need to know.
During a California will contest, it is not always clear which persons qualify as interested parties. There may be a number of people who are interested parties despite not being listed in the relevant last will and testament. Generally speaking, all people who are members of the decedent's family qualify as interested parties, or they will be actual parties in a will contest. This is true whether or not they are named in the last will and testament.