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May 13, 2021
What Happens in California if You Cannot Find the Will

What Happens in California if You Cannot Find the Will?

A common question that a probate attorney is asked is how to obtain a copy of a last Will and Testament. Locating the Will may be urgent if funeral or burial instructions are contained in the Will or if anatomical gifts or the authority to conduct an autopsy are granted in the Will. First of all note that you cannot ask to see a copy of a living person’s Will – this is because while […]
May 12, 2021
My Spouse (or Registered Domestic Partner) Left Me Property, What Should I Do

My Spouse (or Registered Domestic Partner) Left Me Property, What Should I Do?

In California, spouses or registered domestic partners are given privileged status in regards to collecting the assets of their deceased partner’s estate. After the death of a spouse or domestic partner, a spousal property petition can be used to transfer assets from the deceased spouse or domestic partner to the surviving spouse or domestic partner. It is a simplified probate, and takes much less time than a full probate. Legal fees are usually much lower […]
May 11, 2021
Probate and Blended Families

Probate and Blended Families

Blended families, which are now quite common, come in all different shapes and sizes. For example, the husband may have his own children, the wife may have her own children and the couple may have children together. For most, a second marriage or more can be a blessing. But for some they come with special challenges, especially in the area of probate. When you and/or your spouse have children from previous relationships, in addition to their […]
May 10, 2021
Payable on Death (POD) and Transfer on Death (TOD) Accounts

Payable on Death (POD) and Transfer on Death (TOD) Accounts

The form of ownership determines how property will be managed during the owner’s lifetime and how it will be distributed at the owner’s death. Alternative methods of transferring property on death are sometimes known as “nonprobate transfers,” which include transfers made under California Probate Code §5000. If an account, e.g., a bank account, is payable-on-death (POD) or is a retirement account, e.g., an IRA or non tax deferred brokerage account, is transfer–on-death, with a designated beneficiary (TOD), at death […]
May 7, 2021
Ownership of Real Property by Same-sex Couples in California

Ownership of Real Property by Same-sex Couples in California

As with heterosexual relationships, breakup or death are the two possible endings for homosexual relationships. The manner in which property is held affects the outcome of co-owned property between same-sex couples, just as it does with opposite-sex couples. Manner of Holding Title Or Ownership By Multiple Parties Since 1872, California law has defined four types of ownership interests in real property by multiple persons: 1) joint interests; 2) partnership interests; 3) interests in common; and […]
May 6, 2021
Out of State Wills

Out of State Wills

Many people migrate to California each year. The fact that thousands of people come to California means that their estate planning instruments also follow them to California. If you were domiciled in another state or outside the U.S. and prepared your Will in that other state or foreign country (both regarded as “foreign Wills”), but later change your domicile to California, is your foreign Will valid in California if you die? Yes. Under California Probate Code §6113 a foreign Will is valid […]
May 5, 2021
Out of State Personal Representative

Out of State Personal Representative

Whether the Executor/Administrator (commonly known as “Personal representative”) of a decedent’s estate can live out of state depends on the laws of the state in which the Will or estate is probated. In California, an out of state Personal representative is fine. While it’s generally possible to have a relative living out-of-state serve as your Personal representative if that is the individual you really want handling your estate, certain people cannot serve as Personal representative […]
May 4, 2021
What Happens if an Emergency Arises Before a Personal Representative Is Appointed

What Happens if an Emergency Arises Before a Personal Representative Is Appointed?

Letters of Special Administration Most probate cases follow a similar pattern. It generally takes four to six weeks from the time a petition for probate is filed until Letters can be issued to the personal representative. However, in some cases there are exigent emergencies that need to be dealt with immediately. If an emergency situation exists so that appointment is urgently needed before the Petition for Probate can be heard by the Probate Judge, you […]
May 3, 2021
Is Your Will Valid Under California Law

Is Your Will Valid Under California Law?

The California Harmless Error Doctrine Whether a document constitutes a valid will in California is a function of two variables: (1) the state’s Wills Act formalities, and (2) the degree of judicial compliance the courts require with respect to the statutory requirements including “harmless error.” This article addresses the formal requirements of a valid will first and the relatively new “harmless error” doctrine later in this article. With regard to formal requirements: (1) Under California […]