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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 […]
June 3, 2021

Childbirth After a Parent’s Death and Intestate Succession

Scientific developments have made possible the use of assisted reproductive technologies to create alternative families. One problem is determining parenthood in cases of after death conception (post-mortem conception.) If you die without a will in California, your assets will go to your closest relatives under state “intestate succession” laws. What intestate (without a Will) inheritance rights does the after death conceived child have? Consider the following: Through artificial insemination of his mother a baby boy […]
May 20, 2021

Impact of Marriage or Domestic Partnership on Existing Wills

What happens if a person makes a will and thereafter marries, or registers as a domestic partner, and the new spouse, or new domestic partner, is not provided for in the will or otherwise provided for or disinherited? Unless a Will or Trust provides for a new spouse or domestic partner, or clearly indicates the new spouse or domestic partner will receive nothing, the marriage effectively and automatically invalidates any pre-existing Will or Trust. If, […]
May 19, 2021

Wrongful Death and Survival Actions

If you have lost a family member because of the wrongdoing of another, you should consider filing either a wrongful death or survival action lawsuit or both if the circumstances permit. I handle probate matters, including wrongful death and survival lawsuits by personal representatives. To file a lawsuit you may need a probate representative which is a term that includes both “executors” and “administrators.” An “executor” is the person designated in a Will to administer […]
May 18, 2021

When Is a Real Property Deed Effective in California?

California’s “statute of frauds” requires that a deed that transfers title in real property must be in writing. The parties to a grant deed are the grantor, the owner, and the receiver of title, the grantee. With a quitclaim deed the owner transferring the property is commonly called the “quitclaimor.” Many falsely believe only the act of recording a deed transfers title and if not recorded the deed is ineffective. There are times when an effective deed […]
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 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 […]