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Biddle Law Estate Planning Blog

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Perils of Probate Litigation: How to Avoid a Will Contest


There are a number of reasons to create a will not the least of which are to protect your assets and provide for your loved ones. Nonetheless, having a will does not necessarily mean your wishes will be carried out. In fact, an estate can be exposed to a will contest if a dispute arises among family members. 
 
While these disputes may arise when assets are not distributed equally among the beneficiaries, particularly adult children, a will can be contested for a number of reasons, including:

  • The testator lacked capacity
  • There was undue influence on the testator
  • The will was not properly executed
  • The will was prepared fraudulently 

Avoiding a Will Contest: 101

Although will contests are not uncommon, there are steps you can take to avoid a will contest and intervention by the probate court. One of the common mistakes people make in estate planning is procrastinating, and not preparing a will until their health is failing.
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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Making Decisions About End of Life Medical Treatment

While advances in medicine allow people to live longer, questions are often raised about life-sustaining treatment terminally ill patients may or may not want to receive. Those who fail to formally declare these wishes in writing to family members and medical professionals run the risk of having the courts make these decisions.


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Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Primer on Irrevocable Trusts


How do irrevocable trusts fit into my estate plan?

Although many people think that estate planning is only about creating a will, a comprehensive plan considers a number of objectives such as asset protection, avoiding probate, and minimizing estate taxes. One effective tool for achieving these goals is an irrevocable trust.

What is an Irrevocable Trust?

An irrevocable trust becomes effective during a person's lifetime and, unlike a living trust, cannot be amended or modified. In short, the grantor (the person making the trust) permanently relinquishes ownership of property by transferring it into the trust. In this arrangement, a trustee is named to manage the trust assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries.


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Monday, June 12, 2017

Probating a Will: A Primer on Letters Testamentary


How does a personal representative initiate a probate proceeding in California?

If you have been named as a personal representative in a will, you will be responsible for a number of important duties in carrying out the instructions of the deceased. In short, it is necessary to

gather the estate property and transfer it to the beneficiaries through a court-supervised proceeding known as probate.

In order to start the process, you must first obtain Letters Testamentary from the Probate Court in the county in which the deceased person lived. This basically requires submitting the will, the death certificate, and completing a short application which includes a sworn statement that you have been named as the personal representative in the will. The application may also require providing an estimate of the estate's property and debts.
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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Estate Planning: The Difference Between an Executor and an Administrator

When someone dies, someone has to administer his or her estate, regardless of whether he or she has a will in place or not. This person will ensure that any final debts and liabilities are paid and that beneficiaries receive what they should based on either the decedent’s will or intestate laws.

Technically speaking, there is little difference between the duties of an executor or an administrator. They will have the same responsibilities, but there are a few differences. The most important differences are how the individual gains his or her role and the “instructions” they must use to go through the
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Monday, May 29, 2017

Common California Estate Planning Oversights

It’s safe to say that estate planning is about the farthest down on the list of things people want to do in their spare time. Nobody wants to think about what happens when they cease to be a part of this world, and that’s understandable. At the same time, it’s probably accurate to say that when you pass, you want your family to benefit from your hard work and have a legacy to remember you by, without having to go through the hassle of an extensive probate process and legal battles. The best way to show your family that you love and care for them is to ensure that your estate is in order.

A lot of people think that estate plans can be done pretty simply, in a DIY fashion.
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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Duties and Responsibilities of a Probate Administrator

When you create a will, you name an executor to take care of your estate after your pass. This person will be responsible for not only carrying out your wishes as you have laid them out in your will, but he or she is also responsible for settling your debts as well. The duties of an executor or administrator can be somewhat daunting, so it is important to name someone whom you think will be up to the task.

Knowing what this person will do and how they may go about doing it can help you decide who should be your executor. As a potential or acting executor, knowing the basics of your role can go a long way toward completing your duties efficiently and in a way that will satisfy the beneficiaries.
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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Digital Assets and Estate Planning

When you start thinking about your estate plan, physical property like your home, your car, and your bank account will often come to mind. However, we live in an increasingly digital age, which means that you may have digital assets that should be included in your estate plan. A digital asset is any electronically stored information that has some value.

If you already have an
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Common Types of Will Contests

The most basic estate planning tool is a will which establishes how an individual's property will be distributed and names beneficiaries to receive those assets. Unfortunately, there are circumstances when disputes arise among surviving family members that can lead to a will contest. This is a court proceeding in which the validity of the will is challenged.
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Saturday, April 15, 2017

3 Things a Simple Will Does NOT Do

Unfortunately, many people do not realize that crafting an estate plan involves more than just creating a will. A will cannot accomplish many things you may want in your estate plan. They can, however, deal with issues such as naming and executor, stating who will be a guardian for your children, and distributing property.

Wills cannot deal with particular types of assets and have little effect on reducing your estate taxes. Instead, other
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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Estate Planning and Second Marriages

Estate planning can be difficult, but it becomes even more complicated when you are planning after your second marriage. There are different issues you need to address when creating a plan after your first marriage. For example, you may want to plan for children born from the first marriage or allocate assets away from certain individuals. Below are a few things that you should consider when creating your estate plan after a second marriage.
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