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Camarillo Estate Law And Real Estate Law Blog

Estate planning gives the business owner important benefits

Business owners in California will benefit greatly by engaging in estate planning and developing various beneficial features and protections. The legal instruments that are created can ease the stress and potential complications that family members may encounter upon the owner's death. In addition, a buy-sell agreement can be formulated during the estate planning process.

This agreement will set the terms of succession of the business between employees, partners and family members in advance of the person's death. Life insurance may be purchased to fund post-death transfers of ownership. The individual will also have a will as the central focus of the plan, although in some situations a living trust will be the more central legal instrument and the will, if any, in that event may serve a more minor role.

Separation without divorce creates estate planning issues

There will always be a small percentage of married couples in California who separate but never get around to a formal divorce. What are the estate planning consequences when a person dies while separated? That was the case for both designer Kate Spade and expert chef/traveler Anthony Bourdain, who both died recently. Dying while separated and not legally divorced can raise several thorny issues.

It may be surprising to learn that when a separated spouse dies, the estranged spouse is legally in control of the decedent's body, his funeral and, if there is no will, his estate. This is precisely the situation with Bourdain. The marriage was intentionally preserved by the parties out of devotion to their daughter who they continued to co-parent after the separation.

Pitfalls and mishaps can be avoided with careful estate planning

The subject matter of estates and trusts in California is complicated. The individual or married couple must keep vigilant over their affairs to assure that no costly and troublesome mishaps occur. Even though estate planning may have been undertaken, a cavalier attitude in the years thereafter can lead to various disasters.

Perhaps one of the most common problems is the failure to name a contingent beneficiary on insurance policies and investment or retirement accounts. This is necessary in case the first selection for beneficiary predeceases the owner of the policy or the account. If the owner forgets or neglects to name a new beneficiary, the property will pass into the owner's probate estate after death, where it may be taxed and/or subject to extra fees, along with having the distribution itself delayed.

What happens to my stocks after I die?

When someone dies, we often think about the house, the car and even the debt that's left behind for our loved ones. But what the stocks we invest in? How do we pass along our investments to our children or other family members when we pass?

It's obvious that when you die, all your property will be divided among your family and friends, including your financial portfolio. However, stocks can be physically passed from one party to another without registering the transfer with relevant parties, such as a personal broker, in some states.

Homeowner fights HOA rules against bikes, playing on sidewalks

In California, those looking to buy a home will find that many homes on the market are subject to a homeowners' association. A HOA can be a benefit under many circumstances, but there are also times when its rules conflict with a homebuyer's desires or circumstances. It is best to research the rules and practices of the association prior to deciding to make the purchase of a residential premises.

One example of a dispute between a homeowner and a HOA is playing out in another state. A family with four children is balking at an association's rules that prohibit the riding of bikes, skateboards, skates or wagons anywhere within the development. The rules forbid the use of the streets or walkways for "playground" activities. The reason for the rule is argued to be safety.

Most people seek estate planning for 3 basic reasons

In California, a majority of people do not even have a will, which is a basic estate planning tool at the heart of many estate plans. This applies to people with a large amount of assets and those with a modest financial picture. Persons in both financial categories need to have basic estate planning to maximize their asset holdings during life and to provide for a smooth distribution of assets to the heirs that the person wants to receive the assets.

Estate planning does not deal solely with things that happen after death. Estate planning is defined generally as a process of designing a plan during life that will manage and dispose of one's assets both during life and after death. Estate planning includes the effort to minimize a person's gift, estate and income tax expenses. Because each state has a set of laws that dictate how a person's estate will be distributed after death when there is no will, many people strive to make sure that they always have a current, updated will.

Trust administration must deal with cybersecurity issues

In California, trustees are fiduciaries in wills, trusts and occasional other legal instruments. Because the trustee holds assets that are passed from one generation to another, trustees and the beneficiaries of the trust instruments are likely targets of cybercriminal enterprises. Because trust administration promises a fiduciary duty, the trustee could end up being legally responsible for the loss of trust assets or data.

The challenge to a responsible trust administration is to keep cybercrimes to a virtual standstill. Trust data has a tendency to be shared among family members and to be used across various platforms and in various transmission protocols. Whenever that kind of sharing occurs, the risk for theft is enhanced. There is always the risk that a family member with important or sensitive data may be tricked and taken over by a social engineering scam.

HOA demands children's book-lending library be removed from yard

The pettiness of some disputes that homeowners have with their homeowners' associations explains why buyers do not always choose to locate in such a community. Basic rights of expression and harmless efforts by California homeowners to be helpful are not always welcomed by the HOA, which often leads to expensive, time-wasting conflicts. This is how one family in another state views an association's efforts to have a Little Free Library box removed from their front yard.

The Bentley Woods Community Association originally offered to allow the family to relocate the book-lending box on association property near the pool as a way around the problem. The box is used to allow children from the area to take out books for their pleasure. The family recently reduced its size to be comparable to a bird-feeding house but the HOA rejected the modification.

Estate planning is important to baby boomers' transfer of wealth

The populous baby boomer generation is in the process of transferring its wealth to the younger generations in California and throughout the nation. This $30 trillion transfer along with continuing increases in the federal lifetime federal estate and gift tax exemption makes this a good time for boomers and others to do some fruitful estate planning. Despite the favorable circumstances, experts report that some people will continue to make certain repetitive and predictable mistakes.

One mistake of omission is to die without a will or a living trust to guide the desired distribution of assets. The price of dying intestate can be expensive. Various complications can arise, such as where the heirs may have to establish their identities at considerable expense to the decedent's estate. The most famous example of how damaging this mistake can be occurred with the entertainer Prince, whose purported heirs may still be litigating some lingering issues because there was no will to guide them.

Wills vs. trusts: what’s the difference?

Taking the first step to plan your estate can be challenging. There will be a lot of important decisions that will need to be made from the get-go. One of the first questions that you will have to ask yourself is what kind of estate plan is right for you. A thorough estate plan will include either a will or a trust, depending on each person’s preferences and financial situation.

Are trusts only for the wealthy? What’s the difference between the two? Most importantly, which is right for you? Here is an overview of the key differences between wills and trusts.