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May 5, 2021

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?

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?

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 […]
April 30, 2021

Independent Administration of Estates (IAEA)

What Is the Independent Administration of Estates Act? The Independent Administration of Estates Act (IAEA), enacted in 1987, has changed and streamlined the way in which probate sales may proceed. The IAEA is a series of laws allowing the personal representative to administer most aspects of the decedent’s estate without court supervision. The authority to administer the estate under the IAEA can be given by the decedents will or by the court upon the petition […]
April 29, 2021

What Are the Most Important Steps I Need to Take After the Death of a Loved One?

As a probate attorney, I’m often asked, “What are the most important steps I need to take after the death of a loved one?” While there are undoubtedly a ton of things to do in the days and weeks following a loved one’s passing, I like to advise families to start with the personal aspects of the death and then specific tasks that will help them get a grip on closing out an estate. These […]
April 28, 2021

Probate Estate Taxpayer Employer Identification Number (EIN)

When a person passes away and an estate is opened to handle the distribution of the person’s assets and other legal matters, the first thing those handling the estate should do is obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to identify the estate to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In this blog I use the term “estate representative” to include a representative or executor for an estate. Although the IRS uses the term “employer EIN” the […]
April 27, 2021

Do I Have to Serve as Executor?

After a relative or friend dies, you may be surprised to learn that you were chosen to be the executor of their estate. You might feel pleased to have a chance to do a final and important favor for someone you loved. On the other hand, you might feel you have little choice so that you have to accept the job. In fact, you do have a choice. Even if you feel an obligation to […]
April 26, 2021

Non U.S. Citizen Owned Property in California at the Time of Death

This article does not cover the distribution of real property held in a trust or in joint tenancy. Nor does if cover the taxation of estate distributions. In general, nonresident alien decedents are subject to U.S. estate tax for assets situated in the U.S. IRC §§2101(a), 2106(a). For estate tax purposes, the situs of assets within the U.S. is determined either at the time of death or at the time of transfer of assets (IRC […]
April 25, 2021

Death, Co-habiting Same-sex Couples, Estate Planning and Probate

As with heterosexual relationships, breakup or death are the two possible endings for co-habiting same-sex couples. In the event of death, the rights of the survivor is a significant issue, especially with unmarried co-habiting same-sex couples. Many of these married or unmarried same-sex couples have no joint ownership interests in real property and no proper estate planning, such as a Will or a Revocable Living Trust. An alternative method for avoiding probate would be for […]