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September 4, 2021

What is the Difference Between a Probate Lawyer and an Estate Lawyer

Facing legal issues can be intimidating. At times, it can even feel impossible. This is especially true for families experiencing the death of a loved one. When a loved one passes, one of the first arrangements that needs to be made is the division/distribution of their assets. In many cases, the instructions for this process are laid out in a will. In other situations, there is no will, or the will is invalid, making the […]
September 4, 2021

What Do Estate Litigators Do?

The legal world can be confusing, and navigating it can feel especially difficult when you are experiencing the loss of a loved one. Sometimes, the powerful force of grief can bring out the worst in a family. However, one of the primary tasks families face when a loved one passes is a sensitive one that can affect many people on a personal level: determining the division of assets between the beneficiaries. In some cases, when […]
May 13, 2021

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 10, 2021

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

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 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 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 […]