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Camarillo Estate Law And Real Estate Law Blog

Who gets what when one dies without a will?

As the initial sadness that often accompanies the death of a loved one begins to abate, new concerns may rise up amongst you and others impacted by their loss. One of them may be the distribution of their estate. Such concerns can easily be resolved provided that your family member or friend left behind a trust or will detailing their wishes, yet what if they did not? In such a case, it is said that they died "intestate." The state has established guidelines that specifically deal with intestate succession

These guidelines can be found in Section 6401 of the California Probate Code. Here, it stipulates that if you are the spouse of the decedent, then you are automatically entitled to one-half of your spouse's share of your community and quasi-community property. As to the separate property belonging to your spouse, you would be entitled its entirety if your spouse has no living descendants or immediate family members. Your portion would be reduced to one-half if your spouse left behind a single descendant or was survived by their parents. Your share would be one-third of the separate property in any of the following scenarios: 

  • Your spouse is survived by multiple children
  • Your spouse is survived by one child and the children of one more deceased children
  • Your spouse is survived by the children of two or more deceased children

How long has it been since you have reviewed your estate plan?

Your estate plan should not be static because your life is always changing. You may have put great care into the initial formation of your plan, but if you have not recently reviewed it, your plan is probably outdated.

Some people get into a routine of reviewing their estate plans every year or two. This can be beneficial because laws are frequently changing. As laws change, your estate planning strategy may also change to help you make the most of your estate plan.

What to bring to the table when creating an estate plan

There are many factors to consider when creating an estate plan and organizing those factors may seem daunting. You may feel stressed when faced with the task of gathering your information and getting your wishes in a legal document that will carry on after you pass. When meeting with an estate planner, there are some essential items you should have ready in order to simplify the process.

Before going to your estate planning appointment, you may want to think about who you want to appoint as your estate executor, as well as the beneficiaries to your estate. It is important to consider whether the person you choose as your administrator can handle all of the responsibilities assigned to the position.

Estate planning may benefit adults of all ages

Most California residents know that estate planning involves creating a legal structure for dispersing one's finances after his or her death. A will may also provide instructions for health care preferences, funeral arrangements and power of attorney. While it may seem that these issues primarily affect people in older age brackets, there are numerous reasons to create an estate plan at a younger age.

Many people start to think about estate planning when they achieve certain milestones, such as getting married, having children or retiring. As many Millennials are taking longer to reach these milestones, a young person who does not have a spouse or significant financial assets may not think estate planning is necessary. However, dying without a will may have unintended consequences. According to FindLaw, when a person dies without a will, the state distributes that person's assets according to existing laws. If there are no relatives that meet the requirements for receiving the estate, all assets then go to the state.

Mistakes can derail your estate planning efforts

Planning for the future and preparing for long-term care is not always an easy process. This is a smart step for California readers of all ages and income levels, yet there are a few common estate planning mistakes that can derail a person's efforts and cause complications down the road. Of course, one of the most common mistakes that people make regarding their estate plans is to do nothing or assume they do not need one.

Another misstep that can lead to issues in the future is to treat each children exactly the same in an estate plan. California parents often do not want to play favorites, but there are many reasons why it is beneficial and practical to be specific when designating assets in a will. Along the same lines, it is not necessarily always the best choice to establish joint ownership of assets in order to pass them directly to a spouse or children.

What can you do about property line dispute with your neighbor?

Land in California is precious. While disputes about where a property line falls can happen anywhere, these disputes may get particularly heated in California. This is especially true if your homes are close together.

Disputes may occur because one neighbor is looking to build an addition, a fence or replace an existing structure. Here is what you need to know about settling boundary line issues in California.

Can your HOA help with barking dogs?

Living in a California housing community can be a great way to share the responsibilities of home ownership at a reasonable cost.

There are some potential downsides in these arrangements. One of the most common issues homeowners face with their neighbors is loud pets. Specifically, the ones that bark. But how do you know if your HOA has any recourse for a continually barking dog?

A living revocable trust is a popular estate planning tool

The will, sometimes called a last will and testament, remains the most common and recognizable tool that people in California and other states use to create their plan for asset distribution to their beneficiaries and for related purposes. However, living trusts have increasingly grown in popularity and are worth considering when one sits down with one's estate planning attorney to work out a plan. The revocable living trust is set up by the person called the grantor or settlor, and that person appoints a trustee to govern and administer the trust. In many instances, the settlor and the trustee are one in the same.

The revocable trust is a legal entity that owns assets during the settlor's lifetime. A will becomes effective only at the death of the maker and the assets in the maker's name do not go into the estate until the maker's death occurs. Because the trust owns the assets already, there is no need to probate the trust property at the settlor's death.

Estate planning steps for the newly divorced

Divorce will bring many changes to a person's life, including finances, retirement and more. In a time of upheaval and transition, it can be easy to overlook some of the things a California resident may need to do after divorce in order to truly protect his or her interests. One of these things is to make estate planning adjustments.

Significant life changes likely merit changes in an existing estate plan. Often, this means changing things in a will and other documents that a person drafted either before marriage or during marriage. In addition to changing the names of beneficiaries and heirs in a will, it may be necessary to also adjust any trusts included in an estate plan.

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