Biddle Law Estate Planning Blog

Monday, February 19, 2018

California Estate Planning Options Include Wills and Trusts

Q: Do I need a trust or a will? Or both?

Two of the many benefits of seeking counsel from a skilled California estate planning attorney--instead of attempting a risky do-it-yourself will-- are a law school education and years of experience.

You certainly wouldn't stitch your own wound closed and probably wouldn't offer to be a surgeon's first case.
Read more . . .

Monday, February 12, 2018

Protecting Your Beneficiaries from a Bad Trustee

Your trustee is supposed to be extremely ethical, responsible, and have the best interests of your beneficiaries at heart. They should carry out their duties as you intended and act for the benefit of your trust and those who receive its assets. However, unfortunately, trustees may not always be up to this task. What happens if you pick a bad trustee or someone who cannot carry out his or her duties? Can you set up your trust to address this type of problem? The short answer is “Yes”!

Your Rights to Change a Trustee

If your trustee is in charge of a living trust or irrevocable trust, you may be able to make some changes yourself. Nonetheless, you can only make this type of change if the trust document allows it.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

When Do You Need a Probate Lawyer?

If you have recently been named as an executor, you may want to seriously consider hiring a probate lawyer to help you with your daunting task of administering your loved one’s estate. In fact, according to traditional probate advice, hiring an attorney is often one of the first things you should do after you discover you are the executor.
Read more . . .

Monday, January 15, 2018

Ensuring an Executor Fulfills His or Her Duties

An executor plays an extremely valuable role in the administration of an estate. He or she will make sure that bills are paid appropriately and make distributions to beneficiaries. The executor role is designed to make everyone’s life easier after a loved one passes.

Unfortunately, when the executor does not carry out his or her duties, an already difficult time can become even more challenging. Thankfully, beneficiaries can take action to address poor administrator performance.
Read more . . .

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 . . .

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