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May 12, 2021

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 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 6, 2021

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

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 […]