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Camarillo Estate Law And Real Estate Law Blog

Estate planning for pets is important to many families

Many people in California have more than one pet these days and they are usually an integral part of a family's identity and life. It is therefore entirely understandable for people to want to provide for their domestic pets in their wills or other estate planning methods. When the method used for this purpose is through one's will, certain state law limitations may interfere with one's ability to fully manage the pet's future.

For example, the amount of money that one may leave for the benefit of animals in the will may be limited. Also, the caretaker may be able to take the funds designated for the use of the pet and use them for his or her own personal needs. The bequest is therefore not generally enforceable under traditional state law provisions.

Estate planning is important to one's overall financial plan

Estate planning in California is not just for distribution of assets after death. It also has to do with managing money during life. One may have an overall financial plan but, without an estate plan incorporated into it, several unwanted outcomes may arise. An experienced estate planning attorney can explain what an estate plan is and why you will need one as part of your overall financial success and legacy planning.

Some of the reasons are generally stated below, but the maximum value from this discussion will be realized in conjunction with the estate planning meeting with the attorney, which may include a financial planning expert if desired. Estate planning is highly useful for planning one's cash flow needs prior to and after retirement. With a realistic picture of what a person needs to make it all the way through the different stages of life, provisions such as insurance and retirement vehicles can be put in place to provide the ultimate peace of mind about one's future financial survival.

Estate planning: It is best to prepare for all potential needs

Taking a form will off the internet and saying that there is now an estate plan in place would be an exercise in self-delusion. The truth is that there are many issues that must be evaluated, several more legal instruments prepared, and in the ideal situation, this should all be done under the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney and, where appropriate, a qualified financial adviser. For residents of California, choose an attorney who is proficient in the estate laws of this state.

Regarding the internet, younger people these days store their most valuable business activities online and use the web for basics such as banking, correspondence, contract execution and so forth. The older generation has gotten into the act and it is becoming the norm throughout society. Therefore, it can be a devastating mistake to not have a will or other legal directive that explicitly instructs one's representatives on how to handle one's online business and personal accounts.

What can the HOA control regarding my condo's common property?

You found your dream condo, and you understand that the property falls under the regulations of the California Home Owner’s Association (HOA). Before you purchase the property, you want to ensure you understand all elements that your HOA will enforce and control regarding your purchased condo.

Under California law, the HOA works to uphold values and ensure that condominiums and apartments’ common spaces prove clean and tidy. The HOA wants to make sure that all residents respect the spaces and that the outward look of each home coincides with ordinances set in place by the HOA. Failure to comply with HOA regulations of your building may force you into legal trouble, and you may face violation lawsuits.

HOA bill regulating voting procedures in the state is debated

California Senate Bill 1265 would seek to curb abuses of power by homeowner associations. The bill intends to further democratize the process of HOA elections but there are others who say that the bill is misdirected. The bill's detractors point out that the current system of elections in the state's 55,000 homeowners' associations is the strongest in the nation. They claim that the current system is fair.

In addition, supporters of the current system assert that California law already provides for protections that the bill is trying to initiate. The present laws already require associations to give notice of all elections, give ballots to all members and count the votes in open meetings. The new law would allegedly also reduce voting by association members because other members could copy the secret ballots and the signed envelopes, which would give them the other members' names, addresses and signatures.

Real estate transactions through inheritance may offer tax cut

A California law may figure prominently in one's estate plan, depending on the person's circumstances and needs. The statute, passed in 1986, allows children to inherit real estate from their parents without having to pay a tax based on the current market value. The effect is to protect the children from the impact of steep tax increases on inherited property. The tax-friendly law appears to be cutting down on the number of real estate transactions and on the number of marketable homes going on the market.

The importance and noticeability of the law may be more pronounced today than in prior years. That is likely because baby boomers are reaching into their early 70s in age, and leaving their properties to their heirs. The heirs who inherit homes under these circumstances sometimes convert the properties to other uses, including rental units.

Trust administration can include trusts for fighting addiction

In California and throughout the country, opioid overdoses are the biggest cause of death for persons under 50. It is estimated that about 12 percent of American families have a relative who is addicted to opioid narcotics. In some families, new ways of providing financial assistance to afflicted persons are being formulated, with the emphasis on obtaining rehabilitation, educational programs and various health care programs through trust administration plans.

The financial vehicles being utilized are sometimes referred to as "opioid trusts." One important consideration in using this kind of financial management tool for an afflicted family member is the inability to trust the individual with a significant amount of money. Addicts are known almost universally to have little contact with reality when deciding what to do with and how to spend their money. Parents and other concerned family members do not want to provide funds that will be used to buy illegal drugs.

Estate planning helps to prepare the estate for probate

Probate in California involves the administration and settlement of a decedent's estate. Although traditionally probate is a means of proving that a will is valid, the process can also take place if the person died without a will. Assets owned at death are treated as estate assets, and it is far better to process those assets according to the owner's dictates in a will. Without prior estate planning, the court and the participants must turn to state intestate laws to see who inherits and in what percentages.

Without a will, there is no appointed executor. Instead, one or more persons will come forward and seek to be appointed administrator of the estate. Sometimes, where rival heirs compete for the right to administer the estate, it may be a sign of trouble ahead. If there is a challenge to an administrator, that dispute in itself could eat up months of precious time and estate resources in adversarial conflict between family members.

Estate planning obliges multi-generational living arrangements

California and other states are seeing a reversal to some extent of the longtime trend of family members establishing independent and separate households. The Pew Research Center estimates that 20 percent of the population lived in multigenerational homes in 2016, which is the equivalent of 64 million people. Some of this trend includes working adult children who are making changes in their living space to accommodate their aging parents. Where applicable, the trend is a factor to be considered in estate planning.

Other aspects of the trend include children moving back with parents to handle better their student loan payment problems. Sometimes, grandparents may be recruited into the household to provide childcare for their grandchildren. In some cases, relatives may purchase a separate neighboring property or a nearby condo to house aging parents and more easily provide caretaker assistance in addition to professional care where needed. These situations all require planning of the physical resources of living to accommodate all family members satisfactorily.

How to choose an executor

Deciding who will inherit what assets is what most people think estate planning is all about. In a way, they are right, because that is the ultimate goal of an estate plan.

The other and just as crucial part, though, is deciding who will be in charge of making those distributions. Choosing an executor, also known as a personal representative, is just as important as deciding what happens to your wealth when you pass away. Here are three things to consider when deciding who to name as executor of your estate.