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Camarillo Estate Law And Real Estate Law Blog

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.

Weighing the good and bad of an HOA

Buying a home in a private California community often means accepting the governance of a homeowners association. An HOA is established by the developer of the community, and its management is then transferred to its board, which is made up of property owners in the community. The board enforces the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R), which are the rules every homeowner in the community agrees to live by. Homeowners pay monthly HOA fees, which can be less than $100 or well over $1,000, depending on the services the HOA provides for its residents.

HOAs do not always have a good reputation, especially when the press publishes the most sensational stories of HOA power-hungry boards. However, living in an HOA-governed community has its advantages. For example, the HOA fee allows the community to pay for care of the common areas and provide amenities like community centers, swimming pools and security. Neighbors who have disputes can reach out to the HOA for resolution. Additionally, the board is made of residents, so anyone in the community can take an active role.

Estate planning is lucrative ground for fraudulent scam artists

There is enough estate-related scamming going on in the country, including in California, to make one lose faith in the human race. However, if one exercises due caution against these plots and keeps steady control of one's affairs, tragic outcomes can be entirely avoided. One key thing to remember is that the relationship between a qualified and experienced estate attorney and the client is built on a long tradition of trust and reliability. Promotions that go beyond that simple estate planning formula are often a signal of fraudulent companies trying to make a quick, illegal buck.

One thing to beware of is the scam that experts and authorities call "trust mills." These are dishonest people who prey on the elderly and their fear of losing their money in the post-death probate process. Living trust promoters are also on published warning lists put out the Federal Trade Commission and the American Association of Retired People.

Estate planning is a mix of tools working for maximum effect

Estate planning in California is a complicated process of arranging all of one's assets in a manner that will protect them from depletion and at the same time set up a plan of distribution of those assets for one's heirs after death. The benefit of providing for one's care and financial functioning during a period of incapacity is also a major benefit of the estate planning process. There are some general misconceptions that people tend to make about estate planning, which it is helpful to avoid.

For one thing, people think that as long as they make a will they have set up an estate plan that will carry them through. The fact is that the will is generally only one component of a plan. For example, how one titles one's assets has a lot to do with how they will be dealt with after death. It is usually more efficient for a couple to own a will or even a bank account as tenants by the entireties with the right of survivorship.

Estate planning can include a financial advisor or planner

Estate planning attorneys in California are accustomed to working with a client's financial advisor to obtain information helpful to designing the estate plan with the client. For persons who are contemplating associating with a financial advisor for mapping out a future financial plan, there are various subjects to inquire about before making a commitment. Estate planning attorneys may at times be able to assist the client in determining how to find a qualified financial advisor.

Because the term financial advisor is generic, it is not enough to qualify someone to assist in a financial plan. Anyone can say they are a financial advisor. It is best to choose an advisor who has a recognized designation, such as a CFP, which is a Certified Financial Planner. This person must have a college degree, specialized training and pass standardized tests in the industry. A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is also educated and must pass various examinations, with an emphasis on investments.

What to do when a loved one dies

An old woman lay dying in the bedroom of her daughter’s home. On her left, her three adult grandchildren sat sniffling and stroking the arm of the only grandmother they knew. On her right, her two daughters whispered loving words through strained vocal chords: attempting to contain the expanding sobs within. The little old woman’s eyes pressed firmly together as her body fought its final battle.

As the death rattle silenced, her chest ceased raising and falling. In that moment, the eldest granddaughter began marking time, realizing no one else could. After two minutes, she announced the time of death to an uproar of sobs.

Fair treatment of children in estate planning is achievable goal

Estate planning in California and elsewhere always involves making choices that invite human drama and emotions. For example, an older couple with three children must decide how to divide and distribute their assets among the three. They may make an estate plan in their middle years, but the terms may seem a bit out-of-place several decades later when the couple takes a look at their estate planning documents.

During their review, they will inevitably be distracted by the differences between the three children and the different ways in which each was treated over the couple's lifetime. One child is doing well financially and has a comfortable retirement plan. The second child is doing even better and has several income-producing properties along with investments in the stock market. The third child is living check-to-check and near the borderline of poverty. For that child, life did not work out as she had always planned.