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Biddle Law Estate Planning Blog

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Avoiding “Helter Skelter” Estate Planning Mistakes


Q: What happens when multiple wills are presented for probate?

More than a month after the death of one of the most notorious mass murderers of our time, the late Charles Manson is making headlines again due to a large fight over who is entitled to his remains and belongings.

The Manson estate appears to be a prime example of why people should consult a skilled estate planning attorney to ensure that their assets are distributed and their bodies disposed of in the matter they wish.
Read more . . .


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Protecting Your Estate Planning Documents From Disaster


Where should I store my will?

After a year of catastrophic fires in California and unprecedented hurricanes hitting both Texas and Florida, Americans have become more acutely aware of the importance of preserving our valued personal items.  When a natural disaster strikes, you want to make sure that your important documents are in a safe place.  Some of the most critical documents that you will want to preserve are your Read more . . .


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Reasons to Challenge a Will


A will describes who should get what regarding both assets and liabilities. However, sometimes the will may not seem fair or just for various reasons. If you read a family member’s will and think, “Why did Dad do that?” or “I’m shocked that Mom did that,” you may have grounds to contest a will.

There are a variety of reasons that contesting a will may be appropriate. Underlying each rationale, however, is the notion that something seems slightly off on how the decedent left things.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Removal of a Trustee


A trustee plays a very important role in the administration of a trust. It is absolutely vital that you use a trustee that is trustworthy and responsible to carry out the distribution process and general tRead more . . .


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Basics of Settling an Estate


The process of settling an estate is commonly referred to as “probate.” It requires an understanding of not only the will that your loved one left but also an itemization of their assets and liabilities as well as an appreciation for the probate laws and process in California.
Read more . . .


Monday, November 20, 2017

ABLE Accounts in California: An Overview


An ABLE account is a bank account that permits those with special needs to save money at the state level. It gets its name from the federal law, Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.

California was slower to establish ABLE accounts, but they were signed into law in 2015. However, California has struggled to put the ABLE accounts in motion thus far. The program is expected to be in “full force” in the winter of 2018.


Read more . . .


Monday, November 13, 2017

What is Probate Litigation?


You may assume that estate planning is a non-confrontational process, and it usually is. When someone creates an estate plan, the process of developing it deals only with one (or potentially two) person—so there is little occasion for conflict. When loved ones actually take steps to fulfill a decedent’s wishes after they pass, fights are much more likely to arise. 

Family members may take issue with a variety of topics related to an estate plan. When those conflicts arise, interested parties can challenge estate planning tools by initiating Read more . . .


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Duties of an Executor or Personal Representative


An executor is someone who is named in a will to carry out your final wishes and settle your estate. He or she will pay your outstanding bills, pay for funeral expenses, and distribute your property as you describe in your will. 

It is important to know the duties of an executor or personal representative both when you are named and as you consider who should be an executor. Having someone trustworthy and reliable to fulfill this role will ensure that your last wishes are satisfied. Of course, if you are an executor, it is important to have someone who can help you carry out your duties, such as an Read more . . .


Monday, October 23, 2017

Tortious Interference with an Expectation of Inheritance


When a relative passes, you often expect that you will obtain some type of inheritance after their passing, particularly if it is a parent or spouse. Perhaps, for example, your mother has already talked to you about your inheritance, or you know that a particular bank account has been left for you.
Read more . . .


Monday, October 9, 2017

Joint Tenancy and Avoiding Probate


The probate process can be time-consuming and expensive. It can also be very emotionally draining for someone who just lost a loved one. As such, many individuals take steps to avoid the probate process entirely to save money and to make the transition to life without them easier for their loved ones.

There are many ways that you can plan your estate to avoid probate. One of those is by holding property in joint tenancy with others, such as a spouse or child.


Read more . . .


Monday, October 2, 2017

The Probate Process: When to Hire an Appraiser

You must go through the probate process if a loved one leaves a will with enough property to warrant the full probate process. If the total value of the estate is less than $150,000, then you generally will not need to go through probate in California. Instead, smaller estates can go through a faster, more streamlined probate process.
Read more . . .


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