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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 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 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 […]
April 23, 2021

California Residential Ownership – Transfer of Property at Death

When a person dies the transfer of the deceased’s residential property (or any real property for that matter) becomes an issue. Who is entitled to the real property upon death depends on how the property was owned at the time of death. The following describes the various forms of ownership of residential property in California and, in general, how it would be distributed upon death. Tenancy in Common A tenancy in common is created whenever […]